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Grandpa Jake's Fire Theory

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    Our M Lazy 5 Cattle Ranch is as real to me now as it was then. As I stare into the campfire remembering, my fire hypnotized gaze stares past one Dutch oven holding two browned and stuffed Cornish game hens and the other a pineapple upside down cake. A fresh salad with Lisa's homemade blue-cheese dressing sits covered on the picnic table. Two sweet potatoes steaming to perfection wrapped in foil in the fire and I am remembering M Lazy 5 and especially Grandpa Jake.

     Growing up on a fairly large cattle ranch in northwestern Montana should be a requirement for every boy or girl. As I write, I feel some of this is going to be worth reliving if only on paper. But it's Grandpa Jake I am thinking about now and a question I asked him right after I turned eight years old.

     The hay was in, all three cuttings! The gravity irrigation pond a mile from the house made the alfalfa grow faster than quack grass, and if I am remembering right, the oats and wheat was harvested as well. The eight cords of wood was stacked, of thick I was involved with more than I care to remember. There were times that being the oldest of three boys had its disadvantages and that wood pile with "my name on it", as dad said was at the tip of my disadvantage list. My own wood project consisted of a log raft and an old bamboo fishing pole with a hand crank  open faced reel. I was feared by every brook trout as far as you could see up and down Miller Creek and the irrigation channel. Dad said if we worked real hard we could play hard, and being eight, I liked that last part of that concept the best. These memories of the M Lazy 5 years make me laugh and smile, but it was Grandpa jake I am remembering now.

     We were on our yearly Labor Day camping trip which consisted of catching two or three hundred white fish. We men caught and cleaned the fish and Mom and Grandma and Grandpa Jake canned them for the winter provision. After we got home, Dad and I smoked about seventy-five or so, depending on the size. We were just settling down for the evening around the fire. A fresh fried fish supper with homegrown fried potatoes and garden fresh corn on the cob remained fresh on the tongue and in the air. Mom's homemade instant hot chocolate flowed and life was good. As we all sat around the fire and and the light danced on our old walled canvas tent, Grandpa Jake sat sideways to the fire on a stool leaning against a tree and I sat on the ground facing the fire right next to him. This grand old man was a legend in his own time or at least a legend in mine! He had trapped in Northern Canada as a young man, prospected for gold, bootlegged whisky during prohibition, ranched, hard rock mined, and was finishing his accomplishment with being my Grandpa.Grandpa Jakes Campfire Cooker

     As I sat next to him and stared into the fire I asked, "Grandpa, why does the wood burn so bright?" He glanced at me for a short look and stared back into the fire and was quiet for a minute or so. He looked again at me knowingly and slowly asked, "You know how the trees sit out in the sun light year after year getting bigger? It gathers the sun in its wood waiting for the day when it can give the sun back in a camp fire. The bright light and the heat is all those years of sun shining back on us all at once."

     Lisa and I forgot the picnic table, so we spun the Grandpa Jakes Campfire Cooker  grates away from the fire so they would cool. We sat on our camp chairs close to the fire and each other, using the grates as our personal tables. The Cornish hens and potatoes were done to perfection. As we ate a wonderful meal next to a warm bright fire, we laughed as I told Lisa tales of the M Lazy 5 and a, one of a kind, Grandpa Jake.

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