I was sitting around the campfire this last weekend, my grandkids sitting nearby. We were listening to the crackle of the wood, watching the flames dancing in the dark. There might have been a roasted marshmallow or two consumed, by a couple of us. The main point though, was that there were no electronics! We were off the grid, or at least as far off the grid as you are able to get when you are within a twenty minute drive of downtown Maple Ridge.
There was a lull in the conversation, the fire was still burning brightly, when my newly minted 13 year old granddaughter said, "Poppa, tell us some of your stories about when you were growing up." Now, you are all probably thinking that I just leaped in with a few of my favourite stories, and I did, but not quite right away. It took a while for me to get started, but I finally started rolling. I told them a couple of Squawker stories that aren't in print yet, then I wandered into a story about our cat, Snow White, and one of the rabbits she caught. I talked about our dog King, faster than a speeding school bus, and a losing fight he had with a porcupine. I told about the squirrels, the Budgie that flew around the house, and the flying squirrels who had their favourite game they played with my mother, and the amazing whipped potato fiasco! Then we couldn't forget about another of our dogs, Tim, and how he was able to protect his beaver meat from 4 coyotes, every night, while we watched from our parents' bedroom window. By this time my granddaughter was complaining that she couldn't laugh anymore because her face hurt too much! Much to her dismay I wound down and everyone trailed away to head to bed. I stayed by the fire and watched while the flames grew smaller and smaller. The silence was immense, and I was reminded of an overnight camping trip, just Gail and I, 30 kilometres from Dawson City. It was 2:00 am as I finished reading a novel I had brought along, without benefit of a lamp, it was that light out still. I sat, a small smile on my face, and just reveled in the memory, as the flames finally died out.
A few minutes later as I was drifting off to sleep myself it struck me that growing up with the pets that I did sure led to an exciting, and probably unique childhood, especially considering how much time I spent, or actually lived in the bush. Hunting, fishing, trapping, cutting ice for the ice house, building cabins, hauling and cutting wood ~ I guess it was pretty unique. Kids today are little different from what we were like when we were growing up. I loved listening to stories about my Dad growing up, his pets, his escapades, or stories of my mom and the earthquakes she lived through. Stories make connections that tie each generation to the previous one. They tie families together across vast amounts of time. Just watch your kids, how close attention they pay to you when you tell about your memories, and if you had some really cool pets, it makes the stories even better! Talk to you again soon.