Small Wonders: Taking time to stoke the fire

June 26, 2010|By Patrick Caneday

When I was a boy, I was always the dirtiest kid on a camping trip. I was the one that searched through the forest for scraps of wood and pinecones to feed the campfire. I then spent the rest of the evening making sure the fire stayed lit.

I was also the one that the smoke gravitated to no matter where I sat. My friend Eric calls this "riding the dragon," and that's the person you want to sit farthest from.

Maybe this is why the family gave me a backyard fire pit for Father's Day. Or, maybe my wife was taking notes every time she noticed me coveting our neighbor's fire pit whenever they have us over for cocktails.


Take a little kindling, throw in some wadded-up newspaper, a few, long burning pieces of wood and set it ablaze. Poke it occasionally with a stick to stir up the hot coals, maybe squirt it with lighter fluid once in a while just for fun, and you've got a great source for making s'mores, lively exchanges and cozy canoodling.

Turn your back for too long, though, get complacent, and the fire dies. Or, worse yet, get one of those boring, chemical-laced, faux wood byproduct logs from the supermarket and pretend it's a real campfire.

There is a marriage between man and flame. And that union needs tending.

My wife and I recently celebrated our anniversary, and she gave me a great gift. Last week we got our passports stamped, visas processed and jumped on a shuttle to the Hollywood Bowl for date night. You wouldn't believe what suburbanites have to do before they're allowed to go "over the hill" for a little entertainment.

With 17,000 of our closest friends, we streamed into the bowl to see Sting accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. I haven't been to a large venue concert since Bush was in the White House. Bush Sr. Thankfully, my wife keeps me up to speed on what's current in the arts and culture these days. Whenever I tell her "I'm still jiggy with it," she just rolls her eyes and sighs deeply.

The civilized, strictly older than 35 crowd was equipped with Williams-Sonoma picnic baskets, sipping fine wines from plastic cups. They enjoyed their takeout paninis from Patina, bento boxes from Maison Akira and Raspberry Marzipan Tarts from Sweet Lady Jane. When Sting took the stage, rather than rushing to form a mosh pit at his feet, the audience applauded, energetically though politely, and stayed in their seats.

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