CWM "TOODLUMS" July 24,1949 - August 9, 2010There is nothing like the glowing warmth of a campfire. Snapping and popping, the oak logs piled high with the yellow and orange flames squirting upward through the tightly stacked cracks from the bark still on the wooden fuel.
Too large to be intended for the fire, cut sections of trees served as resting stools for more than one annual trip to the familiar river bottom. Without confirmation, each has in intended occupant. Time has a way of etching routine without formality. The unceremonious act of who takes their place in cadence is stamped in time.
It seems one always has “one more thing” to sort out and put in its place. The last to take his place in line. The last to turn out the lantern. Beyond the reach of the campfires shine clattering of assorted gear indicates the restlessness. All, except this one, have gathered at their appointed places amongst the bark covered thrones.
“What are you doing out there? You gonna come on or what? We ain’t gonna wait all night.”
The strings are tuned and the whistles are wet. We wait momentarily.
“Well, are ya coming?”
From the darkness and damp, with clarity comes a chuckle and reply.
“In a bit, perhaps, you old codger, In a bit.”
The usual banter and ribbing of “always late” and “it’s gonna be daylight soon" offers a familiarity to the situation. We know we are going to have to wait. A round with flask and a dirge of song pushes the hour past.
The shifting of logs and flicker of flame, upward the embers struggle to rise. The glow still strong but not quite as bright, the warmth still surrounds us all. The sweetgum stump, awaits in quiet with sounds from just beyond. It seems the clatter is not intense as it was some time earlier.
“The music is old and bellies are full, if you’re coming on, then ya gonna have to do it soon. Not sure of the duration with this routine of fun.”
A chorus of laughter votes in favor of wit, but certainty not at all certain. Waiting for a reply I sit suddenly quiet as I listen for anticipated answer.
“In a bit, perhaps, when I finish. In a bit.”
The campfire out, the reminding ashes, what’s left of the mighty oak, a reminder that dawn is near. The river fog cloaks the forest near and water still between the banks flows. The cold ashes swirl about and, with a grin, I answer the wind’s invitation ; “are you coming”.
My reply: “In a bit, perhaps, you old codger, In a bit.”
CWM "TOODLUMS" July 24,1949 - August 9, 2010