Good times sitting around a fire

Published 5:38 pm Tuesday, February 21, 2017

admit it.  I have always loved a fire.  Pyromaniac was the word my parents would use to describe me during some of my early years.  Shooting off Firecrackers.  Grilling hot dogs and cooking S’mores.   It didn’t matter, I liked anything to do with fire.

As a child at Compass Lake, we would build a fire on the sandy beach and sit semi-circle around the flames.  If we all sat with our knees bent, it would form a tunnel that my first great dog, Pee Wee, would eagerly run through end to end, only to turn around and run in the reverse direction.  Do children these days ever slow down enough to enjoy that kind of entertainment?

My parents built their first fireplace just after I left for college.  I will never forget coming home that first Christmas after I had graduated from high school to find the air conditioning turned down low, so my Mother could have a fire in her new fireplace.   I think I may know where my pyrotechnic genes come from.

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I lived on Town & Country Road when Mary Lou and I got married.  The first year, I was determined to cut the wood each day for our fireplace with wedge and ax.   It seemed like a romantic, noble idea that quickly just became hard work.  Many of the generations before me thought this was simply part of their normal day.   Nevertheless, I always appreciated the electric heat that kept us warm even if I didn’t get all the wood cut.

As an adult, I experienced a cold storage warehouse full of our peanuts consumed by fire.  A house my brother and I were renovating was completely destroyed by fire before it was finished.  I saw half a block of my city burn to the ground after a lightning strike.  Nothing is more powerful than Mother Nature.        

Yet, I never wanted to be a fireman and had recurring dreams as a child about being in a house fire with small windows.  Maybe that is why every window in my house today is large enough for anyone to climb out of in case of a fire. 

Oddly enough, my tenure as Mayor has given me real insight into our city’s Fire Department and the intense training those dedicated firemen undergo to keep us safe.   I admire their dedication to their job and their service to their fellow man as they work in a position that is often overlooked and underpaid.

As Mayor, I am particularly proud that we will take delivery of a new fire truck this year and begin construction on the city’s long awaited new fire station. 

All of this talk of fire has circled back to where it began.  My mother is visiting town and my brother and I, along with our wives and our mother, sat around our fire pit for the second night in a row. We enjoyed food, fellowship and the stories from the past that unites us as a family.

Despite the destruction that can be brought to bear by a catastrophic fire, I still believe that sitting around a controlled fire, whether a campfire, bonfire, or fireplace brings out the best of our conversation and selectively brings to mind the best of our memories. 

There is no substitute for enjoying multi-generational discussions within your family.   It grounds you within your place in the proverbial family tree.  It instills stories for you to share with the next generation and then the next.

In my life, I have heard the stories of those before me in several places, including the breakfast or dinner table, picnics, sitting on the dock at the lake, traveling in the car, cruising in a boat, or simply walking along the road or trail.  They were all good.  But as my family learned again tonight, for the umpteenth time, there is no better place to listen to memories and share stories than sitting around a fire.