Monday, October 18, 2010

There are ashes in my hair, and it's not even Lent

When I was a young Girl Sprout, we used to do Troop-y things like make God's Eyes and tie knots and practice the Pledge, but my the best thing was when we went camping. We'd set up our canvas pup tents (this was back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth), find firewood, unpack the marshmallows, and have a good ol' time for a day or two.

Mostly what I liked about camping were the fires.

I'll let that soak in for a moment.

Yep - ol' Tiff was, and is, a genuine pyrophile. Camping is a wonderful reason to have a fire going all the dang time. Breakfast is cooked in a thick cast iron pan over a fire, coffee is perked in a spatterware enamel pot banked in the fire's coals, dishwater is heated in a dish-soap coated pan (the soap on the outside prevents the pan from getting scorched, you know). Lunch is not a fire occasion, by and large, but dinner, ah...dinner. meat and veg done up in a foil packet and buried deep in the coals to sizzle until perfectly done, or biscuit dough wrapped on a peeled green stick and toasted over the fire then filled with jelly to make doughboys, or chili suspended in the dish pot over the fire bubbling happily away while girls get showers after a long hike and the leaders more than likely take a nip from a flask they carry for just such occasions. After dinner is cleaned up there are the s'mores and baked marshmallows toasted up to a perfect golden brown on the end of yet another peeled green stick. If overdone, the marshmallows could become flaming torches of sugar, burning with intensity and a glorious smell.

Mmm, flaming marshmallows. Pull off the crusty outer coating and inside there's a gooey warm mess of mallow ready to be gingerly tugged off the stick. Who cares if your fingers get sticky? Nobody, that's who, because there's a pan of dishwater waiting, cooling, for little girls' fingers to be dipped into before being sent to bed.

Tonight I kind of wish we'd had some marshmallows, for the bonfire in the backyard was perfect toasting temp. As it was we wound up toasting only ourselves and the rest of a small group of friends (just their outsides, and not even until done!) while we planned out a big event coming this weekend. S'mores would have made it more delicious, I'm sure, but we wouldn't have gotten nearly enough done with the siren song of sugar calling us.

So, as a nod to the troop leaders of yore, we celebrated the ebbing flames with a glass of tipple after our friends headed home, while getting bathed in smoke smell and poking at shifting flames.

As a result, I now have ashes in my hair and smell like a bacon factory, which I take as a good thing. My Mom, however, might not agree. She would always wrinkle her nose a little after I came home from camping, telling me I smelled like smoke, which might have been a generous way of saying 'get in the bath girl, you reek,' and probably not from smoky origin. Mom is not a camping sort, which makes it all the more curious why I adore the smell of smoke and all the accoutrement of camping. Tonight, with ashes in my hair, I remember those camping days and am happy.


We, the small group, as mentioned, are planning a big event, as I'm sure you know by now. I'm excited to be a part of a wonderful team of people who take this thing very seriously, and can have a marvelous time poking at fires while discussing the business at hand. They are a group I could totally go camping with.

I wonder if they know how to make sand candles? Because those were my third favorite thing about camping, after the hikes.

Are you in favor of fires and camping in general, or is your idea of 'roughing it' having to cook your own pizza instead of ordering out? Do tell, and thanks.

Tiff out.

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