Tag Archives: autumn

Campfire Cooking

Today was one of the first very cool Fall days.  It got down into the high 40’s, low 50’s.  I love days like this where you can wrap up in sweatshirts or flannel and a pair of soft, warm denim jeans. Where you can walk outside and take a deep breath of the crisp cool air, so deep that you feel the air touch the very bottom of your lungs… and feel like your body, your mind, your whole psyche is being cleansed. It awakens and enlivens my senses and my spirit like no other season ever will.

It rained hard this afternoon, heavy thunderstorms that cancelled my son’s football game. A good day to be inside, watching movies or college football games, wrapped in a blanket. Tonight though was drier as the cells of storms had moved on earlier in the day. My wife and daughter went off for the closing evening of the county fair where they are participating in the 4H equestrian program.

When the girls are away, the boys like to do stuff… like make fires and then cook our dinner on the fire. I know, I know… you’re saying… why cook on a fire when you have a perfectly good kitchen available? I don’t know, it’s that primal urge that guys have to be and act like cavemen.

So here was our dinner for the evening:

In a large sheet of aluminum foil: Instant white rice (cooked), cannned chicken, frozen broccoli, a couple tablespoons of olive oil and a big dash of garlic pepper.

Wrap it up tight!

Spread out your fire so you have a nice bed of hot coals to cook on. Set the foil packs directly on the hot coals.

Turn on some music, grab a seat and wait patiently! You don’t need to be concerned, that’s not his beer bottle on the chair next to him.

Cook for about 20 minutes!

It’s all about the presentation! See how frickin’ good this looks!!

Okay, so this isn’t really what it looked like.  In fact, it was dark out so I’m not sure what it really looked like. But it sure tasted as good as this looks!

Because you know what? If I’ve learned anything in my many years of parenting…

… it’s not always about the food… you know what I mean?


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I was grounded yesterday.

Not that kind of grounded.  I’ve never been the “in trouble” kind of grounded.  Seriously… never.  My kids have thankfully never been either.  I mean the Merriam Webster version of grounded:

Mentally and emotionally stable : admirably sensible, realistic, and unpretentious <remains grounded despite all the praise and attention>

Okay, I don’t really know about any of that stuff either.  Here’s my definition of grounded:

“Yeah dude, despite all the swirling chaos of challenges and insecurity and kids and hopes and dreams and anxiousness about life and trying to write… things are pretty good… in fact, things are very good.”

I spent a lot of time with my family yesterday. I felt close, connected. We are not always like that, not that we don’t want to be, it’s just that stuff gets in the way. It’s an anomaly that I can’t quite decipher, how you try to live life, yet somehow life gets in the way of living every moment to its fullest. Kid’s activities, adult activities, work. Like most families, I imagine, it seems sometimes we just pass each other in the kitchen or the hallways on our way to who knows where. Sometimes we struggle just to talk to each other. Sometimes weeks go by in a dizzying blur like those instances when you have driven somewhere, only to arrive at the destination and not remember anything about the drive. I don’t like that, yet I also don’t know how to change it or if I should even worry about trying, as it’s likely perfectly normal.

Yesterday, though, was different. We were all home most of the day. Mother Nature in all of her graciousness offered up a beautiful, sunny, yet crisp Autumn day, and days like that are refreshing and cleansing to people’s spirits.  We all fulfilled our usual obligations; grass was cut, homework was completed, books were read, dishes were washed, a birthday cake was baked, even some TV was watched.  Then, kind of on a whim, as dusk slowly crept in, we went outside and built a fire in our fire pit and decided to cook what are called “hobo dinners” on the fire.  It wasn’t a complete whim, I was practicing for an upcoming scout event, but not an activity most folks would entertain when the electricity in their house is working at full capacity. I won’t go into a lot of detail about hobo dinners other than you take some cabbage leaves, throw in some meat and potatoes and veggies and oil and spices and anything else you desire, wrap it all up in some aluminum foil and set it in the hot coals for twenty minutes or so.  Then you eat it, right out of the foil. Its campfire dining and although it’s not fancy and it’s not gourmet, it’s fun and it’s another memory that my kids can file away in their rapidly filling memory banks. My son even asked if we could do it again tonight!

Later, when the wind whipped up and the temperature dipped, my wife and son retired back to the house to warm up.  My soon to be fourteen year old daughter and I sat outside for a while longer and talked about life and campfires and goats and the moon, which hovered above us in a perfect crescent shape as if eavesdropping on our conversation. My daughter is so interesting these days, caught somewhere between childhood and adult-hood. At times we both sat quietly, transfixed by the flickering flames of a fire that was trying it’s best to run out of fuel and tell us it was time to go back into the house.  For a couple of hours though, that swirling chaos of challenges and insecurity and kids and hopes and dreams and anxiousness about life had been washed away by a warm fire and a moonlit night and my family.

This morning was a typical Monday morning filled with rushing around and disorganization and the pandemonium of getting two kids to school on time.  But I was able to look back on yesterday evening and realize that, perhaps living life to the fullest is not what we often think it should be. Perhaps living life to the fullest is not about fame and fortune or traveling to exotic locales or even dreaming of getting your writing published. Perhaps living life to the fullest requires nothing but a warm fire and a simple, quiet evening with people you love and for a brief moment, feeling grounded.


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