September 11th, 2003

duke-juggle

Around the Fire

It wasn't intended to be a "9-11" sort of commemoration. It was just a day when everybody was free. We sat around a nice outdoor fire, family and s'mores. It just happened to be on September 11th.

In retrospect though, I'm glad it was this evening. I don't really want to celebrate or over-hype this day, but it has become one of a few important days that remind me: life is fragile. Cherish it. Treasure the people you love. Thinking about it, I'm glad I took the time to see my family today.

This evening I had my mom, dad, and sister over to my house for an old-fashioned campfire. My parents gave me a Christmas present of an outdoor fireplace back in December. I couldn't use it for the long and cold winter, then I didn't really remember it in the spring. Finally I enjoyed it a few times over the summer, but I never shared it with the family until this evening.

I picked up some marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars over the weekend. I talked to everyone, we compared schedules, and we agreed that Thursday we would probably all be free, and we'd gather around 10pm if the weather was nice.

It was a perfect night, so I set things up after my (botched attempt at) hip hop class. I walked to the park and gathered some extra firewood. I moved chairs from off the porch to the deck, where the firepit is. I lit a candle to mark my house, since my porch light is out. I filled a juice bottle with sand and used it to support one of my aging tiki torches.

I was lighting the fire when everyone arrived. We all found ourselves beverages in my fridge, then we sat around the fire. It was perfect, with dry crackling wood, crickets, and the sounds of nature almost completely drowning out the sound of the freeway nearby. My deck is secluded, surrounded by fence, hedge, and trees. My sister and I sat in the hammock while my parents sat in my plastic porch chairs. I kept the fire fed while we roasted our marshmallows and built our s'mores. They were delicious.

At one point, while picking up some wood, I glanced up in the sky. I pointed out to the family, "Look, I've arranged a fine view of Mars for everybody to enjoy while you sit by the fire!" They were all pleased and impressed, complimenting me on my fine choice of decor and arrangement of the planets. I said modestly, "Well, it's attention to the little details that really make an evening."

We all admired how big my little cherry tree has gotten. It is nearly half again the height it was last summer. It spent all last summer growing out and down, but this summer it finally began grown upward and looking like a mature tree!

My sister suggested that perhaps round wooden benches might enhance future bonfires, and I agreed to consider it. Even with cheap plastic chairs, it was a good night. The bugs stayed away; the fire and night air were the perfect temperatures. Every now and then, things just come together in a way that seems almost magic.