Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Contact Us | Home RSS

Campfire stories trump chilly air anytime

October 28, 2012
Messenger News

Everybody has her own idea of what heaven will be like.

I got a glimpse of my heaven last weekend - playing games on a picnic table at a campsite in a park with a campfire at my back warming my behind.

Lot of prepositions there, but I was on, at, in and with a childhood friend and her family and having enough fun to ignore howling coyotes.

Jennifer Christenson Wicks, her husband Doug and his stepmother Betty and stepbrother, Brad Miracal, spent Friday and Saturday nights at Dolliver Park in their campers. If I'd stayed longer on Saturday night, I'd had to curl up under a camper to wait out daylight. But nine hours isn't too long a visit when you're outside laughing.

My sister went with me Friday night, but we had to come back to Dodge after just a few hours. She had to go, and not just because Jennifer wanted to see her too. She had to go to help find the campground. I thought my camping days were long gone, and I've never cared where it was.

Before last weekend, that is. Now I'm wishing we still owned a small camper and I could find the camping stuff in my basement. Now I can't think of camping without thinking of all those old stories flying around in the sparks from the fire. It would be worth renting a spot at the campground just to sit by a fire and tell stories.

But then, as Brad pointed out, I could start a fire in a picnic pit somewhere else in the park and save the camping fees. All I need is somebody willing to go with me to sit in chilly weather and keep the fire going. I'd do that myself, but the smoke tries to kill me.

Just in case you wonder, smoke will wipe out any sense of balance when it swirls around your head and seeps into your closed eyes. Standing near a fire is dangerous at this point, so the only thing to do is sit at the picnic table playing games until the sun leaves for the day. Then you turn on a light and continue to play until the chilly air joins night-time moisture, making it too easy for dice to slide off the table to hide under leaves.

Nothing, however, can take away the will to sit with your feet close to the warm fire pit and your mind wandering back so many years. Finally, at 10 p.m. I had to give up and go home, content to know we were meeting for church Sunday at South Enes Lutheran in Vincent.

Enough people who belonged to the church a half century ago still belong, which gave our Sunday together even greater happiness.

This getting together was so much fun, Jennifer invited me to her home in Ankeny to make Christmas cookies, though she asked me to help bake before she tried cutting into the brownies I took out to the park.

I still say the cold air made them hard.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Sandy Mickelson, retired lifestyle editor of The Messenger, may be reached at



I am looking for: