Across fields and river and miles of piney forest lay our tiny dwelling. In the winter the snow drifts piled high against the walls and lent its insulating warmth to the fire burning brightly in our tipi. A thin canvas skin glowed like a lantern in the nights inky blackness. The fires brilliant heat crackled and hissed.
It had been a long day. One of gathering wood, cooking meager meals and singing songs about hobos and gamblers. Our fascination with Woody Guthrie ran deep and hours where spent recollecting his songs and spoken words. It seemed at the time that life was perfect in the woods and it mattered little that we had no jobs, money or girlfriends.
Sleeping on my cot I awoke to the sounds of night in winter. A vast theatre of wind and swaying branches. The moon was floating overhead and it’s light through the smoke flaps illuminated our home. The fire burning slowly. I watched as a spark lifted from the coals, floating lazily in its flight before coming to rest on the canvas high above. Suddenly to my horror the canvas burst into a circular flame and spread quickly. Realizing what was happening I woke my friends. We tried our best to put the fire out by throwing snow at it but it was hopeless. We saved what we could. We yelled and waved our arms at the great blaze that was our home. In the end it burned itself out and it was suddenly very dark. We realized with a shock that our home was gone and left was a smoking black crater of what was. With no shelter, the February winds began to chill us. For the first time the woods no longer felt like home. Within a year we had all gone our separate ways.
I think about that spark and the power it had to change our lives. A tiny glowing ember that created a bonfire. A brilliant dot within a vast world. A red hot punctuation mark that ended one chapter and began a new.