MOUNTAIN LIFE - Blue Mountains | Fall 2018

16 ML BLUE FALL 2018 GUEST ITORIAL Last fall, on a soggy evening in Meaford, my husband attempted to light a fire in our backyard. It was a lousy night, one better suited to Netflix and the couch, but we were determined to be outside. The wood was soaked, any nearby kindling was damp and the fire pit itself had puddles. My husband tried for quite a while, with no real luck, before moving on to his next operation, putting in his minnow trap in the nearby stream. After all, this was a fire for fun, not for heat, for food or for survival of any kind, and maybe tonight it just wasn’t meant to be. After he biked away, my daughter and I decided we’d give it a try on our own. We raided the recycling. We pulled out the hatchet to splinter some of the wet wood down further. We built a tiny teepee, with paper and cardboard and the driest twigs we could find. Then I handed Hannah the lighter. She looked at me with wide eyes. And that was when I realized we’d never put her in charge of lighting a fire before. She took her new responsibility seriously. She was on her hands and knees blowing on the tiniest embers, determined to succeed despite the wet conditions. She found a bucket lid to provide even more oxygen, she patiently added more wood, making sure not to smother the tiny flames that had started to grow. It took a pretty long time to grow into something worth sitting by. There was still drizzle in the air. But when her dad returned from his minnow expedition, there was a warm glow taking over the backyard and I’m sure he could see the grin on her face, now lit by the flames that were large enough to ‘leap’ gently from the fire pit. She’d made this fire herself, on a night when the odds were against her, and it felt good. It got me thinking of how few times I’ve been the one to build a campfire from scratch. At a few girls’ weekends, I’ve been determined enough to build my own fire, even when my friends weren’t super keen to sit outside; I just enjoy the process and the results. It’s a simple but rewarding task. Since that night last fall I’ve decided I like being the one to make things burn too. Maybe next time we set up camp on a canoe trip, I’ll offer to light the fire—but I’m willing to bet my daughter will already be gathering kindling and waiting to be the one to stoke the flames. —Allison Kennedy Davies STOKED A girl’s guide to lighting fires