Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out

Quest for campfire

by

comment

By G.D. Maxwell

Editor’s note: This is an encore presentation of an earlier Maxed Out column. Max will be back, refreshed and reinvigorated, next week.

The best thing about travelling – alright, one of the best things about travelling – is you get to see a lot of things you don’t usually see. One of the worst things about travelling is, if everywhere you go looks like where you live, why bother going in the first place?

My road trip through the darkest interior of British Columbia was largely sideswiped by this reality. Everywhere I went – with the possible exception of Edmonchuk which admittedly isn’t in British Columbia to begin with and looked remarkably like a place where my VW broke down about 25 years ago – looked just like it does here. Cloudy and rainy. A mountainous landscape of greys and halftones, high rushing rivers of white-frothed quicksilver and endless lakes of reflective, infinite black. Leave the Kodachrome home, mama; we’re shootin’ black ‘n’ white tonight.

The Search for Spring turned out to be, instead, the Journey of Many Shivers. A week or so of pre-departure sunshine, possibly our entire spring allotment, lulled me into making what I will generously refer to as unwise wardrobe choices. I was long on shorts, T-shirts and sunscreen; short on fleece, down, and large, bulky animal skins. Many evenings were passed wondering whether goose bumps could ever be considered fashionable or whether they were just the body’s natural defense mechanism to entertain while you freeze to death.

As a result of the weather, the theme for this vacation was 50 Ways to Warm Your Lover. The 48 generally confined to overcoming the body’s initial shock when the two of you come into contact with the ice-cold nylon interiors of otherwise toasty, zipped-together sleeping bag are way too personal to outline in what Mr. Barnett likes to think of as a family NewsMagazine.

Doesn’t matter since Bob’s queasiness pretty much leaves the two most effective methods – fire and hot springs – open to description.

There is, in man (generic tense) a primordial attraction and fascination with fire. Nowhere is this more highly evolved than Canada where the convergence of long stretches of cold weather and an embarrassment of forests have conspired to produce the best damn fire builders in the known universe. Yeah! We’re Number One!

Before I moved to Canada, I thought I made pretty passable campfires, though I preferred not to. Sparks always seemed to find my rainfly, my clothes, my beard, my beer. Being a wind magnet, I was in the path of smoke regardless of where I sat. If I chose not to sit, in a pointless attempt to outfox the smoke, my motion created a sufficient vortex to ensure smoke would engulf me in a permanent spiral. After a couple of days, I both felt and smelled like a very large kipper.

Add a comment