Campfire: A Mid-Winter's Night

Copyright © 2000 Walt Zientek

The wind was cold, as it usually is this time of year. The campers pulled their
heavy clothes tightly against their chilled bodies as they slowly made their way
to the old familiar clearing.

The differences in this group were amazing. Grandparents and young mommas
walked side by side. California and Florida tans beside the ashen, February pallor
of New Englanders. Canadians and Scots chatted animatedly with Swedes, Aussies,
Asians and Latinos. Some tall men helped some tiny ladies make their way. Healthy
and vigorous, unwell and weak, all side by side.

Some wore the clothing of the successful; labels from the finest stores. Others,
making do with what they could afford. And still, they laughed and smiled and
helped each other over the obstacles they encountered. They never saw their
differences. Or, if they did, they didn't care.

Through the snow and ice, over deserts, mountains, plains and oceans, they
steadily made their way.

Each one found a place around the roaring campfire as they loosened their heavy
clothes. They always made room for newcomers. They passed around coffee, tea
and sweet hot chocolate as they offered words of sympathy, encouragement and

They showed photographs of the people and the pets that shared their lives. They
quietly held the shoulders of a sobbing friend in need while others shook the hands
or slapped the backs of those with wonderful news to tell.

The fire roared until even the coldest found some warmth. And then, a man stood
up. He had a twinkle in his eye, a whistle around his neck and a young yellow lab
by his side. The fire reflected off his silver beard and the group grew suddenly quiet.
All eyes and ears were drawn to the man as he looked around the fireside. From
the deep side pocket of his heavy yellow slicker, he produced some rumpled sheets
of paper.

"Place Chamois," he said as the pretty yellow girl settled down.

"Hi Everyone," the man began. "My name is John and I have a story here I hope
you'll enjoy..."

The wind was no longer cold. The differences seemed to all disappear. The fire roared
and the campers listened and let his story weave its spell. And most of all, to take them
all together to that special place that they had learned to share. And love.


for our friend and partner, John

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Last modified: 8-19-2000

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