Monday 20 May 2013

Campfire tales

Anybody who has ever met me or has been following this blog knows that I'm quite obsessed with campfires. I don't know where these pyromaniac tendencies come from, but I remember I experienced my first campfire when I was about 8 years old: my sister and I stayed at a farm with 4 kids, and they had a fire on our last night where we cooked "Stockbrot" (bread on a stick). 

Bread on a stick is irresistible when you love bread as much as I do! Here is the recipe:

1 kg flour
600 ml lukewarm water
2 pieces of yeast or 2 packages of dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl and knead until you can see bubbles in the dough. Let it rise for about one hour in a warm place. Make portions about half the size of a tennis ball and shape into a long ”sausage”. Wind the dough around a wooden stick and bake over an open fire.

Hot fire and warm bread? That's basically my idea of heaven! Add wine to the mix and you have one very happy girl.

There are many things I love about a fire:
  1. It's warm. (I like warm.)
  2. It's intensely satisfying to burn old papers, school books (oh yes I did), or branches lying around in the yard. (The before and after effect is great - from mess to tidiness. Satisfies my OCD tendencies.)
  3. The dogs like it.
  4. It's relaxing.
  5. Wine is obligatory. (Our fire, our rules.)
But by far the best reason for a fire? The great talks you will have. There is something almost hypnotic about staring in the flames, letting your mind wander and having deep conversations.
Over the years we have had a wide variety of people sitting around our fire.
In the early years it was s'mores and roasting "wienies" with the kids.
We have talked friends through relationship woes, divorce, and the messy aftermath.
An old buddy of Richard's fought in the 2nd World War and sometimes tells us stories about his time in Russia. (Very disturbing.)
We have listened to many a tale of immigration: Logging up in the Yukon, hunting and trapping stories, having only the bare essentials in the beginning. Immigrating is hard when you do it alone and don't know anybody in the new country.
There is lots of bird talk. Example: "My Australorp has a hanging comb, what can I do about that?" (Australorps are chickens.) Or "My fu***ing Emu attacked me the other day, I think I have to get rid of him. Do you want him?" (NO!)
(The language isn't always the finest around here.)
And talk about life. It can get quite philosophical (depending on the quantities of wine consumed): What's the reason for living? (Our conclusion: "You only live once, make it count. Enjoy every day, life is a wild ride. Be happy.")
What would we do if we won a few million in the lottery? (Richard's dream: Buy more acreage and raise Dexter cattle. They are miniature cows and extremely adorable.)
One year we invited a few people over for a BBQ. A couple of them happened to have out-of-town visitors and asked if they could bring them. "Sure" we said, "the more the merrier!".
This party ended up to be the best party we've ever had. It was legen - wait for it - DARY! Legendary!! (Little How I Met Your Mother reference.)
Let me try to draw you a picture: 
It's a beautiful August summer night. Our Australian friend and his wife bring their Kiwi brother in law (who is Billy Crystal's Doppelgänger - they could be twins. Plus he's just as funny. No, funnier!).
My parents happen to be there from Germany. All the kids are there, some co-workers, more friends.
Everybody is milling about, drink in hand, admiring the peacocks, watching the chickens, chatting, enjoying the warm evening air. 
Somebody gets the idea to do a little bit of barrel racing. (It might have been the Aussi.)
In case you are not familiar with barrel racing: It is a rodeo sport where the horse and rider try to complete a course around barrels in the fastest time.
Ours looked somewhat like this:
It's blurry because he was going really fast! Haha
Quite entertaining.
After the exertion more drinks are in order. And the barbequing starts. We are having a ton of lamb, plus the usual steaks, salads, buns and stuff. (Quite frankly, I can't really remember what else we had besides the lamb, but I suppose normal BBQ food.)
We have also started our fire. Because there are so many people and we don't have enough chairs we have carried out a few bails of hay, thrown blankets on them and use them as chairs. Cowboy romance at its best!
As it's getting dark and everybody has eaten, we sit around the fir and chat. All of a sudden the Kiwi has a brilliant idea: Let's make music with spoons and a glass bottle! How, you ask?
Since I didn't make a video (which I will regret till my dying day) here is one I found on YouTube where somebody is "playing the spoons":
The glass bottle playing involves breaking a bottle in half and using the neck end to blow on it. If you know New Zealand folk songs, look like Billy Crystal and are insanely talented then you can make beautiful, goosebumps-inducing music.
It was incredible. Magic.
Just picture it (and you have to, since there are no photos or videos from that part of the night - like I said, tragic and regretful):
Warm night, big fire, a Kiwi and Aussi singing and playing the spoons and the bottle. Everybody listening with rapt attention. There were tears. (Or was that just me?)
It was a brilliant night. We have tried a few times to recreate a party like that one, but it never worked. It was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence where all the party gods and cowboy stars aligned and created this magical night.
So that's why I love campfires. Because you never know what will happen, but whatever it is, it will be amazing!
xo Miriam

1 comment

  1. that all sounds so magical! i love campfires too, but it's been years since we made one. what i love most about them is how they (still talking about the campfires :p) somehow connect everyone that is around them. and the stories that come with that of course ^^


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