My dear friend Tabitha and I went out to a camp in the deep woods this past Saturday. There's a small grocery store in town that we stopped by before heading in. We bought red hot dogs for our lunch (very popular around here... sometimes referred to as "Northern Maine Lobster Rolls").
The camp's set up for cooking, but it was such a gorgeous day outside. We thought the best way to get our hot dogs roasted was over a nice fire.
Tabitha asked me if I knew how to build a fire. Whelp! - I had to admit it. I've seen hundreds (at least a hundred) fires built in my life. But had I ever built one myself? Nope!
She graciously agreed to walk me through the steps. There's nothing like a County girl in a sundress teaching you how to build a fire. And with those boots!
According to Tabitha, a wise woods/farm girl you can trust:
How To Build A Fire
1. Make sure you're allowed to build a fire. It seems ridiculous to me that permits are required to build fires, but I suppose we're all just trying to keep ourselves and our forests safe.
Clean out the site so you have a blank canvas to work on. Shovel out any ashes (if it's a spot that's already seen fires) or trash in your campfire area. We had to contend with trash in the site (yeah. awesome.) but I shoveled that junk right out of there. Also, start collecting kindling for the base of your fire.
Birch bark is extremely flammable and is alpha male of the kindling heirarchy. (It'd probably be beaten by coiffed-hair if it didn't smell so bad.)
2. Build a wall of logs around your site. They don't need to connect. Actually, it's better that they don't, because that will allow air to circulate into the fire. Building a fire wall helps contain the fire and keeps the most intense heat inside. Like a big ol' box of hotness. (I don't know much about computers, but we totally rocked this fire wall. pssh.)
3. Make an airy bed of flammable materials (kindling): paper (if you have it), birch bark, dry sticks, various other dry things that are safe to burn. (Not trash. Not slippers.) (Also, definitely not batteries.)
4. Build a teepee of larger sticks and small logs.
5. Use a match or lighter (or flint, if you're really awesome) to ignite the kindling. Pick a spot that you know will catch quickly.
6. Add kindling beneath the teepee as needed until the larger pieces catch.
7. Once the larger pieces are aflame and steadily burning, you can keep the fire going by adding large pieces (still in teepee fashion - air circulation is crucial!)
And there you have it. Kindling ignited, wood burning. We skewered our red hot dogs onto fresh-cut switches. (I call them switches because that's what they are when you're in trouble in 1872.)
I have fire-building skills now. Thanks, Tabitha. If I ever get lost in the Maine woods, this day might be the one that saves me.
I suggest, also, that when you're learning how to build a fire, or just building a fire because you already know how to build one, listen to "Loaded" by The Wood Brothers. Because I'm listening to it now and it's making me want to stare into a fire and daydream about doing really tough things. So. They go together, see?
[PS: You've seen now that building a campfire in a sundress is possible. Believe me when I say: we also tested out skipping stones and riding a four-wheeler. These, too, are possible in a sundress and, probably, more fun that way.)