One man's philosophy is another man's bellylaugh.

Jeff L. Howe

Jeff L. Howe
Location
Strasburg, Pennsylvania,
Birthday
April 19
Company
Visit the website: jeff-howe.net
Bio
Jeff Howe is a bonsai enthusiast and harmonica player who has very good reason to believe that the Universe tastes like a cheap buck-fifty melon. He is a product of Walled Lake and a former Poetry Slam Champion of Milwaukee. He once shook hands with Rocky Colavito, opened for Leon Redbone and took a piss next to Mose Allison (no hands were shaken). All things considered, his best single day was July 4th, 1987 when he marched in the Marmarth, North Dakota parade in the morning, discovered a rare dinosaur skull in the afternoon, and then sat in playing harmonica with a drunken cowboy band until way past tomorrow. It's been downhill ever since. Jeff is a misemployed geologist who specializes in interpreting rock outcrops at 70 miles per hour. It's a gift. His daughter loves cows. ................................................................................................................... FOR MORE STORIES, PHOTOS AND HARMONICA RECORDINGS VISIT: jeff-howe.net

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NOVEMBER 14, 2011 11:07AM

Starting A Campfire To Save My Soul

Rate: 6 Flag

matchflame01 

Forest fires that burn thousands of acres can be set with a single carelessly tossed cigarette butt.  Entire buildings can burn to the ground as the result of a tiny spark from the frayed end of a wire chewed by a mouse, and the family home can be destroyed by a small child innocently playing with matches.  Yet if you were to give me a gallon of gasoline, a carton of matches, a cord of wood, and a bundle of newspapers, I couldn’t start a decent campfire to save my soul.

It’s not that I’m an innocent.  I’ve spent hundreds, if not thousands, of nights out camping in the woods, fields, mountains and canyons.  I’ve traversed the continent, by motorcycle, car and hitchhiking, sleeping out alone, squirreled away, remaining unseen – rising before daybreak for a quick cup of hot soup from the one-burner and then off into the new day before I’m seen.

Campfires are dirty and smelly.  They require gathering tinder and finding and breaking up wood.  They spit sparks into the night and betray your location.  They blind your eyes to the dark and they leave an ugly black scar on the ground.

If you ever go camping with me, don’t expect me to start a campfire, to have the fixings for s’mores or weenies to roast.  I'm not sure  if it's because I can't start them, or because I just don't want to, but the best I can offer is some thoughtful conversation under the stars, a shot or two of Jack Daniels, and maybe a tune on the harmonica before I hit the bag. 

 

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Sounds to me like you've got the most important things covered - stars, liquor, and conversation? That's the best of the outdoors . . .
Fire is mystique.
For some it burns inside.
Fascinating, Jeff. Campfires were my favorite part of going hunting. It's been years, now, but it's sitting around the fires I miss the most.
well, the jack daniels is probably better at keeping one warm than a fire anyway. :) [spoken by someone who doesn't, um, camp. mea culpa]
Beautiful piece of writing. And that "can't or won't" question is one that echoes in the minds of many of us who teach.