Those who have ever spent an evening around a campfire will each and every one without question put it among their most pleasant experiences and recollections.
There is no place where people come into closer relationship and more congenial comradeship than when seated before the blazing pile of logs in some secluded camp.
There is something about camp life that sweeps away the conventional bars and barriers of modern social life and brings out the inner man and his personality. Living in the close companionship of everyday life, being seen under all circumstances, little traits of character come to light and one is “sized up” very correctly.
The utter simplicity of the mode of living, the share and share alike methods, the bearing and forbearing that are so necessary for peace, the absolute freedom from the outside world, all tend to give insight into character such as cannot be obtained elsewhere and to bring people closer than they can ever come in the rush and whirl of city life.
Away from the feverish excitement, far from the noise and roar of the city, close to the heart of nature, in the sweetness and purity of country air, the veneer of conventional restriction is worn off and a man becomes in a degree like his environments, perfectly natural.
So the social intercourse of camp life, where the party is made up of congenial souls, is pure and sweet, and the friendships formed are as lasting as the eternal hills amid which they are made.
But the truly delicious hours of a sojourn in the woods are those spent around the fire.
When the day's hunt is over, the guns cleaned and various simple details of living attended to, the banjos tuned and the briarwoods lit, then comes the climax to all the joys of a day in camp.
The back log is rolled up, some fragrant cedar split for kindling, the hardwood sticks put on and the fire is ready. As it blazes and snaps, the flames leap up, the outside world grows dark until nothing is seen beyond the little circle of light but the moon sailing over the treetops.
On every face lit up by the flow of the fire, there is a look of contentment, on every lip a smile.
For a while, each one sits in silence, for there is something almost awe-inspiring in the great veil of darkness that envelops the camp. The great busy workaday world with its joys and sorrows, its riches and its poverty, its successes and disappointments, seems so far away, and the peace and quiet of the forest seem so near to heaven.
As the fire grows warmer and the pipes roll out clouds of fragrant smoke, each one seems to wake from his reverie and soon the conversation becomes general and spirited. Each one has his share of hunting or fishing experiences to relate, and one realizes the old saying, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”
From one to another it goes from grave to happy, from sober truth to unvarnished fiction. Snatches of song and burst of joyous laughter from time to time make the forest ring and the fire crackles merrily, as if it desires to express its enjoyment of this jovial good fellowship around it.
There is a genuineness about these fireside festivities that seems sweet and refreshing. Soon the pipes are out, the last story told, and one by one, tired from the day's hunt, the hunters turn in. Left to itself, the fire gently snaps and sings until nothing is left but a bed of glowing embers, while lulled by the music of the wind sweeping through the oaks and pines.
There is no experience that is as sweet to the man whose nerves are jarred and jaded from the wear and tear of our modern life as such a night in camp.