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Gather ’round the campfire ring: it’s time for a chat

It was already hot and humid when Sue and I pulled into Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park on Memorial weekend, and the thermometer would ultimately top out at 92 degrees. For many of our fellow campers, these apparently were perfectly sensible conditions for building a roaring campfire.

You can’t make this stuff up.

After we drank a beer and cooled off a bit, we took the dogs for a walk around a couple of the campground loops. It was late afternoon — 4:30-5:00 — and pretty uncomfortable. I was stunned to see how many people were sitting around their campfire ring, a fire blazing away. Many of them were sitting a good 10 feet back from the fire, no doubt afraid that their skin would melt off their body if they got any closer.

Campfire ringI understand the strong connection between campfires and camping, the strange fascination of watching the flames, the opportunity to chat and tell stories around the fire, etc., but: have you lost your effin minds?

Do you also sit in your backyard in the middle of January and eat snow cones?

I could almost understand it if you were trying to build a bed of coals to cook dinner (and I’m going to talk about the pleasures of cooking over a campfire in future posts), but that clearly wasn’t the case. And even if it was, the heat and humidity would certainly warrant a change in the menu.

So, I’d like to offer a suggestion to anyone camping during the week of the 4th of July: if it’s hot, it’s okay to be the logical one and say no to having a campfire just for the sake of having a campfire. Your camping experience won’t suffer for it, and you can still sit around the campfire ring and chat, or whatever.

If you need additional justification, think of it as sparing a small amount of CO2 emissions in a gesture of solidarity with the folks out West who are dealing with some ferocious wildfires. In Colorado and other places we’re seeing what large portions of the West, especially, will be dealing with in the coming decades thanks to human-induced climate change: longer fire seasons; increasing sources of combustible material due to pests like bark beetles and persistent drought; and, hotter, more destructive fires.

And if you have a climate-change denier at your campsite, pointing out the above facts will likely generate plenty of heat.

So it’ll be a win-win for everyone.

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