A Surprise Bonfire

It’s summer and the entire country is experiencing a heatwave. An image and a memory from my childhood pops into my head. In my Father’s Day post on June 11th, I talked about our summer cottage on Curran’s Lake, located about 50 miles from our home in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec. My brother, sister, and I loved to play outside, especially on hot sunny days, and then swim in the lake to cool off.

Dad was always collecting dead brush around the cottage. He would build up a pile down by the lake. When he was satisfied that it was big enough, we’d have a bonfire. Bonfires were always a treat. Dad would whittle a stick for each of us and we would roast marshmallows. Everyone had a different technique and taste for the doneness! I liked to char it, layer by layer.

Another treat at the cottage was company! Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins added fun and excitement to our routines. Dad’s younger brother, our Uncle Tom, and his wife, Aunt Kay, were delightful company. Where Dad was the more serious type, Uncle Tom was hilarious and Aunt Kay’s laugh was truly infectious! Mom would laugh along with Aunt Kay—I can still hear them today.

Uncle Tom, Aunt Kay and a bonfire! Whoa, now that’s a memory! After roasting marshmallows, Dad decided it was time to burn our old red wooden canoe. We had a new canoe, and he wanted to get rid of the old one. His plan was to position one end of the canoe over the bonfire and move it along slowly, burning a few feet at a time. Uncle Tom helped lift the canoe onto the fire.

I remember the excitement as we all watched Dad’s ingenious strategy unfold. However, suddenly, his strategy took an unexpected turn. Flames moved down the canoe, slowly at first, and then with a wild WOOOOOOOSH from the inside to the outside, the entire canoe was engulfed in flames. We all jumped back—stunned, but no one was hurt. Apparently, the canoe wasn’t just made of wood–the tar used to seal and protect the wood was highly flammable. After the fire died down, Dad and Uncle Tom doused it with pails of water from the lake.

It’s fun to recollect and record precious memories. I hope you are enjoying your summer and have plenty of strategies to keep cool!

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