Summer always truly starts for me after the first fire. Going to the pool and getting a sunburn, wearing shorts for the first time of the year, and eating corn on the cob are all signs of summer too, but a fire where people I love are gathered around it is the first sign.
My high school year summer breaks are filled with memories of fires. Coming from a small town where over half the kids had to work their tails off all day on farms, we didn't always spend our days at the pool, the lakes, shopping, or whatever else. Sure, there were times for those things. But a summer night fire was a regular thing for us all. When the sun started setting and the work for the day was over, we were set free for the night. If I wasn't sending a text out about a fire somewhere, I was receiving a text. It was always an open invitation too, you were expected to pass the message along in hopes that a load of people would show up. Sometimes there was food. Sometimes not. Sometimes we met at the lakes where the fire was on the beach, close to the water. Other times we would make a journey up a canyon, across rough dirt roads that you needed four-wheel drive to survive on, and we would start a fire on some mountain top, overlooking the valley. And then there were times we kept things simple and met up at the park where camp chairs, blankets, and picnic tables were pulled around a fire pit.
It might sound a little lame to some people, but it wasn't. We loved it. We would all bring food to contribute and pig out and sometimes we would just sit around the fire, stare into the flames and think our seventeen year old lives were the greatest and most significant things ever (ha). If things got really rowdy, boys would show up with bottle rockets and throw them into the fire. They would then shoot off randomly and it was the most terrifying thing ever. On one occasion, an old sofa some people brought started on fire due to a bottle rocket. It was quickly put out. Just remembering some of these things makes me shake my head and wonder how in the world we all survived without starting a forest fire.
Although food cooked over an open flame is great and there were nights filled with dancing and lighting things on fire, my favorite memories of those fires were the hours of conversation. It's funny how much closer you can feel to people when you talk to them around a fire with a moon and stars over your head.
Although I am a bit older now and we don't invite the whole town, I still love having fires on any given summer night. A few weeks ago, we had our first of the year up Logan Canyon. We found the perfect camp site and invited our friends Rauren (Richie and Lauren) and Jayla (Jace and Shayla) . . . and we can't forget baby Claire!
Now I will leave you with "Girl on Fire" by Alicia Keys since it says the word fire, but mostly just since I love it.