I smell a little bit of an outdoorsy smoke in my shirts these days. Ahh, it smells like happy memories to me.
I recently finished building a stone fire pit in our back yard. That coincided with the chopping down of a dying ash tree at our home, meaning we have plenty of firewood. It also coincided with a little bit of an autumn chill in the air at night.
In other words, it’s perfect weather for a fire out back.
I don’t know what it is I find so calming about sitting in a chair around a fire, dodging the smoke when the wind changes. More aptly, I don’t know why the rest of my family enjoys it so much too.
Luckily, they do. Any time there’s a glow in the embers, you can count on the glow of mobile devices shutting off so people can find a spot around the fire.
I’ve always tried to be close with my children. I’d like to believe they’d tell me anything.
The crackle of burning tree limbs seems to be some kind of truth serum, though. It opens them right up. They’ll tell me all sorts of interesting stories about their lives, about their friends and about their dreams.
Last weekend, I had the longest conversation I’ve had in ages with our 17-year-old. She walked me through her college and career plans. She had a great deal of detail figured out and impressed me with the forethought she put into it all.
A few days later, our 11-year-old laid out her philosophies on fantasy football after successfully defeating her dad in our head-to-head matchup. Another night, our 10-year-old had me rolling with her humorous observations about the day at school. Yet another night, the 4-year-old in our care told me about how much she likes our pets. And on Friday, we all shared some laughs while roasting marshmallows until a sprinkle from the sky put a damper on our fun.
Yeah, that’s five fires in one week. But who’s counting? It’s certainly better than parking in front of the television and turning our brains off.
I know winter’s coming, and we won’t be able to huddle around the outdoor flames for fellowship anymore. The very busy-ness of our lives will strike again. People will find their own quiet corners to ponder whatever’s interesting to them. Someday, they won’t even be here to enjoy gathering in a circle together, filling the time between crackles from the wood by cracking jokes.
And me? I hope I’m reminiscing about the soft glow of an autumn fire, recalling the aroma of logs burning over a fire and building bonds with those I love.