random thoughts of doug
Sorry, Jack London, and sure hope you dont mind me borrowing the title to this short piece. I personally love the story, though the ending could have been made a bit less unhappy. Incidentally, there is currently a youtube with this title which is very much worth the watch, extremely well done.
It so well illustrates, as did the original story, the folly of heading off into the yukon bush ill-preparared and over-confident. Arguably, under-confidence is also a problem, but thats another story.
Now, I'll admit that virtually all my life, I constructed fires by starting with the small stuff on the bottom and piling progressively coarser wood on top with the biggest logs right on the top, the idea being that the flames shoot upwards and best ignite the pile from the bottom up... MREEPP!!! Wrong!
Well, really there is no wrong way to make a fire if it works and everyone stays safe. But there sure are some better ones! So just for fun, the next time you feel the need for a warming or cooking fire, try this: Build your fire upside down with the big stuff on the bottom and working your way up with finer kindling and the actual starting material right on the top. Its sounds crazy I know, but it seriously is the superior method. You'll probably never go back when you've mastered the technique. For one thing, this is a light and forget it fire, if there is such a thing. Once its ignited, you normally walk away and busy yourself with that painting or whatever you happen to be doing. Your fire is perfectly capable of looking after itself while your buddy is busy re-installing the logs that rolled off his inferior fire.
Another great tip is to tear up an old pair of jeans into little pieces say, ten by ten cms, drop them in an old coffee can, add a little diesel so they lightly soaked and re-install the lid. A better way to get a fire going in the rain probably does not exist, or at least has yet to be discovered. Do NOT substitute gasoline and especially DO NOT ever attempt to light a fire in an enclosed space using gasoline. The flames blow back violently and will burn your beard right off and melt holes in your grey tee-shirt and your neck will be red for a week.
Yet one more tip i've found extremely helpful came from my late friend Dick Persons. He taught me the value of using spruce pitch in igniting a fire under wet conditions. Set on a piece of dry tree bark, spruce pitch is a wonderful fuel which burns hot, with a bright high flame, making the rest of the job childs play.
One cautionary note: Fire is like government. It should be kept small, kept confined and carefully watched.