If you’re like me, when you think about camp one of the most iconic things that comes to mind is a good campfire! The crackling sound, the primal and energetic glow, the wafting, smoky smell — it’s perfect in every way.
Add to that things like songs, roasting marshmallows, and just sitting back to get lost in thought while gazing into the embers, and campfires end up being one of the most wonderful things about camp.
The problem is that this makes a nice fire kind of addictive. It offers a soothing setting with a timeless quality that can make even the most ordinary day seem just a little bit more special. That’s why when you don’t have a fireplace in your house, you can really miss it.
Or at least I did!
Meanwhile back at the ranch…
Basically, during the nine years we’ve lived in our Staunton, Virginia house, our fireplace hasn’t been functioning. It was set up to be either a wood-burning fireplace or one with gas logs, and it was up to us to choose which one to do and set it up that way. But, we just never did.
Oh I might pine from time to time about it, especially during the winter months and the holidays, but still we never really got on it and got it done.
Well, I’m a January baby and for my birthday this year it dawned on me that finally getting it done might be the perfect way to celebrate. So I told my husband Matt that getting the fireplace finally done was all I wanted as a gift — I wanted it set up as a wood burning fireplace. And he did, and I’m so grateful — you’re awesome, Matt!
Thankfully it was both easy and inexpensive, and now we have a fire any night we want. (Why we didn’t do this sooner I’ll never know!)
But all this joy came with one little hitch.
After decades growing up and working at a camp, I consider myself a pretty decent fire builder, and really good at keeping one going once it’s started. I can stoke and poke and blow and know that precise moment when it’s just right to throw another log on, and when to whip the fire back up when it’s gone neglected too long but there are still ripe embers for reigniting a good blaze.
I figured when the fireplace was put in, I’d have ample opportunities to show off my mad skills!
But all my experience actually comes from…a fire pit! At camp! When you have 360 degree access to the fire, and haphazardly tossing a log on it isn’t going to risk burning your house down, you can maybe get a little overconfident about being a fire mistress. It’s been another thing entirely (and really weird) trying to hone my skills in a small fire place that’s inside my house with a bunch of furnishings around and toys scattered about and little boys running by.
So this has been the winter of my delightfully warm content…and the winter of learning a new skill at indoor, one-sided fire management. I think I’m starting to get the hang of it!
The smell of course takes me right back to camp, and has me counting down the days til we’re there. Campfire songs ring through my head whenever we build one, or I sit and gaze at it, deep embers glowing, flames licking and dancing, my mind stilled into that soothing fire meditation, wandering where it may.
And it usually wanders to camp. You can tell by the picture of me sitting by the fire on a day I didn’t feel so great, drinking hot water with lemon out of my Alleghany Tervis! :). Only 115 days until camp. I can’t wait to join you there for a nice big campfire!
— Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls