Bio Note: I have backpacked all over the west for over 55 years, often alone. I’ve ventured deep into wilderness, not seeing another soul. One thing comforts me when I’ve worn myself out—the fellowship of fire. I find great comfort gazing into a window of coats. Honestly, sleeping on the ground isn’t slumber anymore. My writing and photography have appeared in numerous news stands, inspirational, and literary publications.
One of the first great freedoms in my life was camping alone under a cottonwood at Taylor Creek. I was surprised my folks had given in without a fight, because fight and fright were residents at our house. I don’t remember it being a rite of passage, a mystical moment when I assumed a new name, I had enough at home to live down to. What settled in that night was the absence of fear. No sounds in the night could compare to the storm I’d escaped from. The fellowship of fire, the smell and taste of cowboy coffee, listening to the conversations of the creek was enough. Enough to believe that I could be something other than my father’s predictions.
Originally published in The Stray Branch 4.14.20
Build a Fire
There is nothing like a fire on a long, cold night whose crackling cadence says you’re not alone. And day-forgotten fears often swell into the dark when phantom shadows squeeze an anxious heart. But within the flames is a window of coals a realm with mesmerizing power, enough to burn the thorns and tangled vines if I hold out my hands and let them go. For me, it’s a wordless prayer, when I gather branches, strike the match, and fuel hope.
©2021 Mark Weinrich
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