There are moments in life that a flashback in time washes over me. It’s not a deja vu-like freaky feeling of having experienced the exact thing before. It is more of a time-hopping experience where your mind travels decades earlier because of the present setting. Last night this happened to me. Papa Bear, Koda, Summer, Luke and I were all at our cabin. After dinner as the evening sky was still lit with the sun setting over the trees across the lake, I looked out at the large pile of tree limbs and clippings from our laboring over the past few weeks to spruce things up. Then I looked at the newly assembled rock fire-pit. I put down my glass of Pinot Noir and decided I was going to build a fire. I grabbed an empty cardboard Corona box (only paper I could find) and some small twigs.
When I went looking for the matches my husband saw what I was attempting and excitedly joined me in my efforts. Within in a short amount of time we had the flickering flames of some starter sticks he had pulled out of the shed and more paper. Luke saw the action outside and came to check it out. That is exactly what a fire does, it draws people to it’s radius. Luke and I began piling all of the dry branches we’d cut and stacked the week before. As the pile got smaller and the fire grew larger I felt a real sense of accomplishment and closure. I am not one to usually stoke a fire much less feed it with logs or branches. Typically I watch from the outer ring as my boys do this. Some energy inside me was moved by this action of completely burning the entire heap that Luke and I had collected together. I wanted to see every twig light up and be reduced to hot embers.
As soon as every last burnable piece was placed into the fire, I sat back in my Adirondack chair a good distance away from the hot fire and watched the dancing red and orange flames. We all sat there listening to crackles and pops, and gazing at the sparks flying up into the darkening sky. Luke added some thick logs from the wood shed to keep the blaze going. Koda and Summer laid at my feet. The silhouette of the tree-line in the distance was the perfect backdrop for the cracking red fire. This is when the familiar feeling started to warm over me. All of us were in chairs around the fire and talking about this and that. I looked over at Papa Bear and then next to him at my 19 year old son Luke.
Gazing back into the graying ashy logs and glowing embers, I was transported back to when Luke was a toddler and we brought the whole family camping. I held him on my lap with the back of his head resting against my chest, and both my arms keeping him safe and warm. He stared at the bright colors of the campfire. I lifted my chin and looked up at the starry sky. No light pollution up in the Sierra Nevada mountains. This active not-so-little boy was completely content in my arms, and together we sat under the enormous sky. I remember the feeling of our tiny temporary existence in a large old universe. With four active children I did not have many quiet moments of reflection, so this fireside feeling stands out for me.
Last night Luke looked at the stars and asked a question of wonderment about the distance between each star. Years ago I could have told him anything and he’d have taken it to be true, but this smart teenager is about to go off to college (in one week) and will learn these facts himself when he takes astronomy (even though we advised him it’s surprisingly a really difficult college course we found out the hard way). My time hop by the fire was ignited by the reality that we are down to less than a week before he graduates. On a Saturday night he chose to stay at the cabin with his mom and dad. Our evening together under the stars next to the roaring fire from our collected branches was something I feel very lucky to have had. I took every second of it into my heart and committed it to memory. Even though I was wishing for time to slow down before June arrived, it makes me very happy that this long anticipated month was ushered in on an evening that was shared so memorably with our son.