Chapter 21 - "the woodstove"

There were cobwebs draped across the porch coming down from the roof attached to the front door. Wild animals had left behind little terds all over the deck floor of the entry. The place looked like no one had been there for years, disheveled and borderline dilapidated. The door opened hard into a one room space about the size of roomy den. The first thing I noticed was a homemade wood stove inside the front door. I couldn’t wait to start a fire for a couple reasons. One, it was a little chilly and my digits were starting to smart a wee bit. Secondly, and more truthfully, I’m a fire-freak-of-nature and would like a fire in the dog-days of summer just for kicks and giggles.

I love to watch them crackle and consume chunks of wild wood. I love watching the flames change color and dance along the surface of the leaning logs. I love playing around with the bed of coals, poking the firewood and shifting it around for no apparent reason. When I stare at a burning fire, I get lost in a trance, almost as if I’m drugged or hypnotized. In this hypnotic state, my mind vegetates and drifts into memories long forgotten, drudging them up like a sunken treasure ship lost at sea. I find that where the ship sinks, so goes the treasure. And much treasure has been lost simply because I don’t take the time to comb the ocean floor looking for buried fragments of my past. The fire takes me there.

After I took a tour of the place, checking out the old jerry-rigged bunk-beds and the makeshift masculine kitchen in the far left hand corner, I took to gathering dry wood for a fire. It didn’t take long for that little room to fill with smoke and heat. A little smoke won’t hurt anyone; in fact, I kinda like emerging from a place with an after-smell of ash and charred wood and singed wrist hair.

As the fire blazed, I shut the door, cracked the vents and headed over to the windows to check out the mountain range view. Off to the left down in the valley were a herd of antelope playing around with each other. I grabbed Doug’s binoculars and watched them clean each other with their long, pick tongues and chase each other up and down the sides of the winter-browned hills. We were in their world. We were in the cage at their zoo. They were inviting us into their culture, into their natural habitat. We were out of our element. They were in their sweet spot. If given the choice, I’d rather be the zoo exhibit for them…it’s more entertaining and enchanting.

We grabbed a little somethin’, somethin’ to eat and talked about where to go next. The world was our oyster, and the pearl was all around us. The only choice before us is what pleasure to enjoy first. We sat and talked for a moment, and decided to head back into town for some long-johns so that we could hike into the mountains. I was ill-prepared for the wind. I’m not a big long-john’s wearing kinda guy, but when you’re legs are needing the love, you love ‘em.

We dropped off our bags and some odds and ends, and made our way back into town. The adventure was afoot, my heart was astir, and God was alive. This is what it means to live, my voyeuristic friends.


On an unrelated topic, I met some of your former students when I was speaking at Grace Adventures, a youth camp in Michigan.

Hope all is well.


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