There's just something about a bonfire.
I could sit here and give you a lot of boring facts about bonfires, from their inclusion in rituals and celebrations, to their cleansing purpose (especially when burning brush and debris...), to the origins of the name (being derived from the fact that bonfires were originally fires in which bones were burned, or "bonefires") - but I'm not going to get into all of that. At the end of the day, regardless of the facts about them, a fire is "home." It's safety from predators, a place to cook food, a spot to huddle around when the nights are cold, somewhere to share stories and roast marshmallows, somewhere to sit and dream.
One of the absolute first things we planned when I moved into the house - was where to put a firepit. I knew that that spot would be essential. It would be the "living room" of my property. (What, you thought it was that room with the TV and the video game consoles? Oh you poor sweet summer child...) I confess it took us a while to find the right spot. At first we just threw a collection of concrete debris into a circle in what is essentially the middle of the driveway, and convinced ourselves it was fine since the house was under construction/it was temporary/we were only being practical. I should also mention that I'm using the word "we" pretty liberally here, since Vandal did absolutely all of the heavy lifting on that one.
But time passed. And the more time that passed, the more permanent it became. We'd convinced ourselves that the backyard was too big a job for just the two of us, so we bided our time, and hoped against hope that the heavy machinery fairies would answer our prayers.
Then one Saturday it happened. I'd paid a young man with a chainsaw, a tractor, and more resolve than sense, to beat a path through the mess that was my property - and for once I could see what I was working with. It was still a huge mess - don't get me wrong. If you read my previous post you'd know that we're still digging our way through it, but we finally had a picture of it. If you didn't mind risking your shins to the thorns, you could get in there, wade through - see the light at the end of the tunnel. And there, like a dream, was it. The spot.
In a little alcove that we didn't even know we had, was a perfect half moon shape of land carved out of the forest. Surrounded by trees on nearly all sides, and with a perfect sloping path down to the stream beyond it... so naturally we completely forgot about it until this spring. After finally getting some sense about us and buckling down to get it done, we got out there and started clearing it a few weeks ago. (I'm ashamed to admit that we were only motivated by the looming date of Nazaires birthday, and my ridiculous desire to finish this HUGE project in the two weeks leading up to it so that we could, I dunno, burn things on his birthday. I'm not sensible, but that's how it happened.) We convinced our friend Strasza to come volunteer some manual labor in exchange for dinner, and coupled with Roosters after school hours - we got to work. We spent hours upon endless hours on it, and with just a day to spare, the firepit was finished.
Many of the stones in this pit have personal meaning to us. In the center of the pit, acting as a monolith, is a stone that Strasza salvaged for us and brought from her home. There's a stone that Vandal and I (in true criminal fashion) took from Shakespears Globe Theater while scouting out wedding locations. A huge piece of quartz that was once my grandmothers preferred door stop. Many stones that used to surround her garden. And let us not forget - the Rhombus. (Seriously, just a large, rhombus shaped rock that we found in the woods, and has somehow become legendary. We're odd people.) Aside from that, we spent days scouring the woods searching for "perfect" rocks. Unfortunately, here in Western North Carolina, we have a lot of clay. And that leads to useless crumbly, flaky rocks that break at the slightest resistance. It became quite the challenge to find enough of those prized "real" rocks for the pit.
True to Murphys Law, we had one last frost the night of Nazaires birthday. It was utterly cold, and we had to forgo our plans to be outdoors. We still haven't lit that first fire - but that's okay. The right evening will come, and it will be better for having waited. I can picture it now... Donut trying harder than he's ever tried at anything just to get a little closer, our friend Scruffy's infectious laugh filling the night air, Nazaire and Senechal exchanging game stories, the Dude interjecting politics and boisterous laughter into the conversation, Strasza with her shoes kicked off helping Rooster figure out the proper technique for roasting a candybar; and Vandal and I, shoulder to shoulder, basking in the warmth of the people we are so happy to call family.