Last night, on the eve of a rainy Memorial Day weekend, I indulged myself with a seventy-five-year-old’s version of a campfire. Certainly there are more attractive chimineas than this battered, rusted Coleman so-called fire pit, but the brand name alone makes me nostalgic.
I think of the Coleman kerosene lantern and Coleman two-burner gas stove that my husband and I hauled around on numerous camping trips. We even had one of those impossibly heavy Coleman canoes. I never did master the stove. That was probably a ruse on my part because it made John responsible for all the cooking. Consequently, he was a happy camper.
The lantern and stove are long gone, along with the tent, backpacks, and other paraphernalia, but I still have both our goose down sleeping bags. They, of course, can be zipped together. I can’t remember the last time I slept in a sleeping bag, yet I refuse to give them up. Seems to me, in this age fraught with uncertainties, every home should have sleeping bags, just as every home should have a first aid kit, a supply of bottled water, batteries, emergency food, etc., etc.
Forty years ago this weekend, John and I went on our first camping trip as newlyweds. We met up with another couple at Salmon Meadows, a U.S. Forest Service campground, elevation about 4,500 feet. I remember standing around the campfire watching snowflakes melt in our steaming coffee mugs.
I’ve known people who continue to backpack and camp well into their eighties. I’m happy to limit myself to day hikes so I can sleep in a bed at night. The Coleman fire pit, which can double as a barbecue, was given to me some fifteen-or-so years ago by one of John’s healthcare aides. Her family had outgrown it. Much as I enjoy it, I rarely use it. Just on these cool spring evenings before the inevitable burn bans of summer, when the smell of smoke is no longer pleasurable and the air becomes acrid from wildfires.
(To celebrate my 75th birthday this month, I’m posting daily stories about the stuff I’ve acquired over a lifetime and can’t let go of. I invite you to consider the stories attached to the stuff you treasure—maybe even share them.)