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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A fire

Several months ago I purchased an odd looking torch, it was made for burning grass and weeds in the cracks of sidewalks and such. It has actually been used for that purpose but only in a minor part of its role. The major part of its usefulness has been in the control and extermination of a very annoying and painful species of pismire – better known as the fire ant. This process irritates them very much – but not for very long.

A new role has emerged for this tool. It is now also used as a fire starter, or sometimes in my case, a bonfire starter and has been used many times for this. Sometimes the fire comes from the burning of a pile of weeds, grass and pruned limbs – I wait until the pile is dry and no kindling is needed. But for the campfires down at Fort Gruntmonkey, kindling is necessary – it is split into small sticks and placed under the other wood.

My normal method of campfire prep is to place some larger chunks of wood on the ground, put kindling on top of that and build a sort of tepee over that with smaller sticks. Then once the lit torch nears the kindling, a roaring fire is just minutes away. The kindling I use under the wood for a quicker start of the fire is “fat lighter” – found here on the property in the stump holes of long dead and rotted pines.

The local gruntmonkeys are out of town this week but after my evening walk a couple of nights ago I got a hankering for a fire. I changed into bummy clothes, got the torch, a folding chair, some cutting tools and wandered down to the pond all by myself. In the lingering light of sunset I pulled some large fallen branches up from the water’s edge and chopped up part of these to put atop the pile of wood already in place.

As darkness began in earnest I unfolded the chair and placed it in the midst of Fort Gruntmonkey. The torch was fired off and shortly the kindling was ablaze with the rest of the wood following posthaste. Then the fire enjoyment started. I just sat and watched the dancing flames, soaking up the sounds and warmth of the fire. If I had been troubled with stress it would have been dissipated in the peacefulness of this ancient scenario.

I watched the sparks fly upwards with the breeze carrying them toward the pond that I could just make out in the darkness behind the fire. The crickets were giving a serenade all around me and occasionally I could hear a frog trying to break into the song with a bass note or two – even though it is a bit late in the year for this noisy critter. Soon all that remained were glowing embers so I gathered my stuff and headed back to the house.

It was a good time of reflection, pondering many things and communing with my very best Friend. How else can I say it but – God is good, all the time. ec

PS: The photo is of the ‘burner of grass in the sidewalk cracks/ant torch/bonfire starter’.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fort GM

Fort GM
On our side of the pond there is a small point of land that in the past has been known as Stump Peninsula – I hereby change this to Gruntmonkey Point. The reason for this is because I have started building fires down there for the “grand” ones – better known as the gruntmonkeys. On an evening a few days back I had GM3, GM4 and GM6 over for one of these fires, to just sit around it and tell stories.

As we made our way down to the point the young ones noted that my stacks of firewood looked like a fort. We went on with the adventures of the evening but the thought stuck in my mind. After the fire and their efforts at defending the ‘fort’ we went back up to the house and did some late night swinging and sliding. They later went home very tired but happy little boys – I remained at my house a very tired but happy old man.

Time slid on through Halloween, the dawgs lost and we had exactly zero little goblins come to our door to get treats – both bummers! We live in the last house on our side of the street and the candy we would give evidently is not deemed to be worth the energy expended to take the extra steps to get to our place. It also poured down rain during most of the best time for those ventures.

Time wandered on through Sunday with a combined service – with inspired singing and a very meaningful message. We then exited to the upper parking lot for what we called Hope Fest – our substitute for Halloween festivities. We also had a chili cook-off and I was one of the many tasters and sampled several before I cast my vote. This voting narrowed the chilies down to six with three judges deciding the top one.

The event was massively attended with many events for young and old – also with lots of food. The Spice and I visited with lots of folks – some for the first time in a while. We finally wore down and headed for the house. Later that evening my stomach questioned my wisdom of tasting so many types of chili.

Monday arrived and I decided to act on the thought I got from the GMs – to build a ‘fort’. Three large trees shade this particular shore of the pond so I used these as supports for the firewood I stacked to make walls for the fort. I simply restacked the wood that was already there – I did so but still needed more to complete the ‘construction’. The solution was to split more wood to finish up the walls – so I did so.

The completed project was three walls stacked about 5 feet tall. The forth side was left open in order to feel the warmth of the fire. It has been named Fort Gruntmonkey. They were over again a couple of days later and imaginations ran wild. They had stopped by with pizza; we took it down to the Fort, chowed down and built a fire. With the amount of firewood down there this tradition could continue for a while.

Even though we as Christians are front line soldiers in a spiritual warfare, we need a ‘fort’ or safe place to go to rest or find help in time of need. We have this safe place in the presence of God and He wants us to come to Him anytime but especially when we have reached our limits of endurance. I’m so thankful He is always there to comfort and guide – we sometimes hesitate to go to Him – not sure why because God is good, all the time! ec