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The Winter Campfire
The Winter Campfire
By Tony DeLorger © 2011
The campfire crackles an incessant sibilance, a hushing voice alone in the silence of darkest night. The glow creates bounds, a circle within trees like sentinels, standing expressionless and rimmed with the golden flickering light.
As a gentle frost gives weight to relenting leaves and droplets form like crystals, a lone cricket resounds, echoing in the vast tranquillity of wilderness. These sounds fill my ears, rendering them sharp as a needle tip, attuned to all the lies beyond the fire, all that scurries, flutters and sleeps in most earth.
Above, a pale moon escapes the studded indigo sky, cowering behind brooding puffs of cloud that travel swiftly, unencumbered by the weight of humanity below. They smile in their freedom, uncared of drama and ineptitudes of thought, lazing in the breeze and reinventing them selves in billowing creativity.
I feel the warmth of the fire against my legs, the hard gnarled surface of the log beneath me, numbing my nether regions to non-existence. My gloved hands I bury in the deep pockets of my jacket, trying to appease the chill, my exhalations clouding before my eyes. I think of my warm bed at home that beacons me, and take another drink from my flask. The whisky is cold but ignites in my stomach, imbuing its warmth from inside out, the tingling followed by a shudder.
I hear the slight rustle of leaves and look up in to the treetops, their silhouettes bending against the ever-moving sky above. I’m thinking camping in summer would have been more prudent, had I a brain.
My ears are aching, so I pull my beanie down over them creating a vacuum of sound, like hearing the sea through a shell. The sounds of night however slight, feel like a cascade of noise, far away from me, removed somehow. I feel isolated, alone and freezing half to death. I think about getting into the tent and burying myself in my plush sleeping-bag, but the fire holds me, and my legs are numb. I look down to check whether my feet are literally frozen to the ground. They are not, but I can’t feel my toes.
Next to me, no more than a few feet away, a squirrel edges toward the fire, sniffing eagerly and hoping for a crumb or two. I smile crookedly, my leeward side working a little, as this furry creature sits by me, enjoying the warmth. I turn to it and utter a few pleasantries, to which it ignores me completely and begins to preen itself.
I am alone, disconnected, in the cold, in the dark of night, enjoying the wrath of nature’s wintry intent. What possessed me? What drove me to seek nature in winter is now beyond comprehension. I stoke the fire and watch the firefly sparks spiral upward, and then close my eyes and feel my lips turning blue. I just love camping.