Friday, October 28, 2016

Camp fires, wood smoke, and burning leaves.



 When I was a kid, everyone burned leaves in the fall. I always enjoyed it so much.  It was a happy time. Man, that smell was amazing and you couldn’t go anywhere without smelling it. Of course now I know that it is a major source of air pollution and those of us that live inside the city limits are restricted from doing it. I don’t think I would burn them anyway, choosing to compost instead.

The whole family would engage in raking the yard and the reward was burning the leaves. The thick gray smoke would pour out like liquid clouds and we would run through it. Afterward, we smelled like smoke, but we didn’t care. I would wager that most people under the age of 30 have never even raked leaves into a pile, let alone burn them.

Growing up in north Georgia in the late 60’s, my 3 brothers and I would camp out most of the summer and burn anything and everything on our campfire. At the end of summer there wouldn’t be a stick, pine cone, or needle on the ground. We smelled like mountain men and didn’t even notice it. Of course we showered every third day or so and put on clean clothes, but we pretty much lived in our outdoor summer campsite. It was a grand time of adventure and primitive living. I guess you could say we were happy.

The other night when it fell into the 50’s, I beckoned my bride to step outside, as someone was burning wood. I’m not sure if she was impressed like I was, but I stayed out front for sometime and my memories were refreshed. It is the simple things in life that sometimes bring the most pleasure. Someone asked me one time what brings true happiness and I told them it is when you fulfill your duties, or a job well done. Peace and contentment bring real joy also.

Disneyworld is nothing more than entertainment. It doesn’t induce lasting happiness. Standing in front of my house smelling that wood smoke made me happy, as I was living in the past and in the moment and days later I still feel good about it. I was content. Doing good deeds and accomplishing things also bring a sense of well being. In a time when everything is pushed as entertainment, we almost forget that none of it really makes us happy.  People go on cruises and vacations and never talk about them afterward.

There is so much hassle and logistics involved to go and do things anymore that when it is all said and done, I’m not sure we got anything more out of it than seeing and doing things – and spent a bunch of money we don’t really have and why? Because we are chasing the illusion of happiness. My dad could sit in one spot and fish all by himself from sunrise to sunset and be as happy as a frog eating a June bug.  The scenery never changed and all he might have seen around his boat was water and sky, but he was more content, than if he would have traveled and climbed up to Machu Picchu.

Wood smoke and camp fires. How long has it been since you hunkered down by a campfire and let the world fly by without you? Of course, you cannot haul in a lowboy of modern conveniences on this trip, or you just complicate it. No, just some meat on a stick; coffee in the morning, and maybe a cooler with beverages is all you need. Get a pocket knife and whittle a stick, just frittering the day away. I promise, it will do you more good than a trip to a crowded stadium, where you have a 50/50 chance of leaving disgusted.

My little doggies make me happy on a daily basis. They demand nothing, chase each other in mock fights and dadgumit, they just are great companions. I feel good caring for them, by taking them for walks, making sure they have plenty of food and water, and great veterinary care. It’s these simple everyday things that enrich my life and the best part of it all is I recognize it. I don’t have to book a flight to Belize to have a great time or to be content.

Like the burning leaves, wood smoke, and campfires, what has truly made me satisfied in life - is life itself.
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9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Eve Cherry: Good Morning, Great post Bert, we have a fire pit in the yard just love this time of year and gathering the neighbors pine cones...

Anonymous said...

Nice stuff. We shall get away this winter and make a campfire

Bruce "Bruno" Marshall

Anonymous said...

SW: So true!

Thanks, Bert, for helping me be thankful for the simple things!

Anonymous said...

Cliff Mckee: We have one decent sized oak tree in our backyard and makes enough leaves for our grandson to play in

Anonymous said...

DH: Loved your column today!

Anonymous said...

Lance Wagner: We were just talking about this at the gym...awesome read BB...thank you

Anonymous said...

DH: Agree Bert. After my workout I spent the day in the hammock reading and enjoying this weather. Nothing could be nicer....Debi

Anonymous said...

Bert, that DOES bring back a whole bunch of great memories. Burning leaves (after you have raked them up and run thru them scattering them all over the place again) and burning trash. Also burning things made of plastic (like toy soldiers) and then dripping them on ants. Which I guess might have been a little cruel, but when you are young and have been bitten by them in the past, you really didn't care at the time.


One day while burning the trash or leaves the wind kicked up and I ended up setting the yard on fire. Thankfully we had great neighbors that helped put the fire out...after I ran off and hid in my grandparents house next door!!


I just new my dad would beat me half to death when he got home from work, he had a hair trigger temper. But he did MUCH worse than give me a whipping, he lectured me for a good half hour and never laid a hand on me.


I only camped out once and hated it. But I did enjoy fishing, hunting for squirrels, riding my bike, hanging out with friends & neighbors and flying kites.


Oh and not to mention playing cowboys & Indians or war. When I was young and Davy Crockett was THE BIG thing, even if I played by myself I pretended to be ole Davy. We even had those toy muzzle loading rifles that actually shot small cork "bullets" or should I say balls. After you shot them, with the help of those round green caps, it could have been a little difficult to find them all again.


We might be gone all day long until dinner time and our parents never worried about us...at least they did not seem to.


And of course some other highlights of growing up in North Georgia in the 50s & 60s was the annual county fair, the arrival of the Goat Man, and snow or ice days in the winter. I loved the snow, especially when Mom would make snowcream, also when they closed school. Of course one year we had to make up the days on 4 to 6 Saturdays. Then there was the time Officer Don & Bistoink Dooley came to the town theater. Don showed Popeye cartoons and I think Bistoink showed kinda scarey movies.


Oh and remember when the always showed cartoons before the movie or the fact that you could sit through the movies for hours on end at the theater without ever having to leave until you wanted to.


And there was also Drive-in theaters back then too.


All great memories. Thanks Bert for helping to stir up mine.


pg

Anonymous said...

WW: What great memories Bert! I loved burning leaves too!

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