Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Cape Erimo Campfire

Below the bluffs and out of the wind, a protected cove with four fishing boats drawn up on the sand, piles of driftwood dry-as-a-bone: you pitch the tent and I’ll get a fire going.

Through the dark back to the van, getting a feel for this beach, white bits of shell and a little stream cutting a channel by the concrete boat launch. Cold fingers, switch on the dome light, rummage around the pile of packs, bottles and grocery bags, a cardboard box, fill that up, matches in my pocket, some moonlight coming through the clouds.

This box will be our stove, wedge it down into the sand and pile some rocks around, rip open the package of fire-starters, break off two dense, pitchy bricks and place them side by side, now a nest of twigs and bark, some dry seaweed; it’ll burn.

Strike the match down low, PhoOOM those starters light right up, bright, the kindling already catching, add some more, quick, bigger ones, thick as my wrist, lay them over the top, now get down, eyes closed and blow, whoosh, turn breathe and blow, whoosh, starting to crackle, it’s going, warm up those hands, camp’s alive.

A school-lunch milk carton, the kind with a straw taped to one side, pull it open, pour in Kahlua, take a drink to make room, then fill to the brim with vodka. Jim Beam and two liters of coke leaning against this log; we’ve got plenty of wood, pile it on.

Cheddar cheese, hot miso soup, bananas and dark chocolate candy bars. Salmon in the pan, globs of bubbling fat frying, flakes of pink meat and crispy skin, eat it with your fingers.

The pipe’s going around and it feels good to stretch after that long drive. Sparks sailing high, smoke chasing us around the fire. The wind shifts and I get a faceful, cough and gasp, eyes clenched shut, flinching, swearing, then coming back rueful and wary, until I forget and it gets me again.

Past midnight, walk down to the water, an arc of hot piss spilling into the dark cold immensity, neck craned back and clouds scudding by, silently revealing and concealing stars. Zip up, return to the fire, to the familiar warmth of insults among friends.

At dawn a toothless old fisherman was delighted to find us asleep on the sand. “Aren’t you cold?” he said. The sea was flat and there was a circle of pale grey ash where the fire had been.


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