It’s getting on toward autumn in my neck of the woods. The milkweed pods have burst and spread their seeds across the country side. The little creatures are finding nests in which to spend the winter. There are less and less flowers for the bees. The nights are cooler, and the sun seems to take a longer time to warm the day up. Everything’s still green, but there’s a definite change in the weather.
Our friends called and wondered if we would like to go gather wood for the winter with them. I guess it’s time for humans to begin to prepare for the winter, too. With firewood permits in hand, we headed up into the forest. We were glad for our four wheel drive vehicle on this trip because the road got rather rough in places. But the forest was beautiful. It was full of tall pines and firs, aspens and juniper trees. We also got to see a lot of scrub oak, ferns, grasses, and the last of the summer flowers along the forest floor.
Our plan was to have the two moms switch off watching the kids and helping to pack out the wood, while the dads cut and hauled the wood. One thing we hadn’t reckoned on was that we would be working out in the woods with seven children under nine.
We got to work, and set the kids to work, too. We knew we wanted to roast hot dogs one more time before autumn set in, so we had the kids gather some of the broken branches for firewood. The baby even got in on the action, gathering sticks and things . . . but she had to taste them all before adding them to the pile. The children all did a great job finding firewood for our fire. We ended up with enough firewood to camp for several days.
After we called off the firewood gathering, the kids amused themselves by going exploring in a nearby stand of trees. We made sure to keep eyes on them, and made sure they stayed away from where the dads were working with the chainsaw; but we gave them some freedom to explore the nature around them.
We were able to see several fun animals throughout the day. We saw squirrels and chipmunks, of course. We also got to see a few deer, and an unusual bird. I tried to get a photo of the bird, but my kids were faster – so the bird was always frightened off before I could. Some photo hunter I turned out to be.
I got the honor of building the fire for the hot dog roasting. I’m not a pyromaniac, but I enjoy a good campfire. I enjoy sitting by it, feeling the warmth from the fire, and the camaraderie that comes from telling campfire stories. Once the fire was lit, and had burned down a bit, it was time to roast the hot dogs.
Of course, all the children wanted to roast their own hot dog. And even though the moms were helping with the roasting, it was still two adults and seven children. We soon found out that we either needed more control over the hot dog roasting, or more hot dogs. I think we fed more hotdogs to the campfire than we did to the kids. I’m glad we packed more than just hot dogs to eat.
We didn’t make it back to civilization until well after dark. But it was a great Saturday, spent preparing for the coming winter and celebrating the last of summer. Something I think we’ll make into a tradition.