Sunday, August 31, 2008

Magical Moments by the Campfire

One of the best things about camping is you have more time to indulge in your favorite relaxing pastimes. For us, cooking is right up there, and it took center stage this trip. We managed to cook most of our favorite campfire foods and even entertained two nights and one morning.

My cousin Deanna and her two boys, EJ and Noah, were camping for the first time just a short walk from us. It was wonderful to hang out together and watch the next generation bond together on the beach and around the campfire. We invited them over for dinner on Wednesday for steaks cooked over the fire and “campfire potatoes” from my childhood.

The steaks were thick and juicy and the potatoes got rave reviews, but I forgot to take photos so you will just have to take my word for it. After dinner, the kids had s’mores and then lit off sparklers. My uncle joined us and we all sat by the fire, talking and listening to quiet music on the radio.

At 10:15, a park ranger stopped by to gently remind us that 10:00 was quiet time. “Your living room is your neighbor’s bedroom,” he said. I recognized his voice and soothing manner and asked if he was the poet ranger. “Yes, how did you know?” he asked.

Well, I wrote a story about him for the Cape Cod Times a few years ago and we hiked the same area we were camping in during our interview. When I told him who I was, he gave me a big hug and then burst into verse, reciting one of his poems to our stunned little group. Way cool.

Then later while Julie and I were in the bathroom getting ready for bed, he stopped by again and left a typed up copy of the poem for me with Steve. Here’s the poem by Eric Levy, poet and park ranger at Nickerson State Park:

Dearest Rock of Ages

Dearest Rock of Ages sits,
As the Sea breaks at her fingertips,
And woes kiss toes as she naked strips
Away the emperor’s old clothes.

Defiant alone against dominating waves,
Behind her swim the loved ones saved,
With a hardness of kindness the wildness behaves,
The ocean’s motion just goes.

Beau barnacles and seaweed cling
As winded Sirens around her sing,
Within her sight I keep sailing,
The heart to heart just knows.

So I do try to sail up close,
And bring the butter for her toast,
And show that Rocks do form a coast,
A place where wonderment grows.

The next morning Deanna and the boys came by for breakfast. Steve made a small fire as soon as he got up and when the coals were low, he fried up some bacon and eggs for bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches on Portuguese muffins. The leftover salt potatoes made yummy home fries.

Great company, tasty food and spontaneous poetry – now that’s the ultimate camping experience.

The Recipe:

Campfire Potatoes
Serves 4

4 large potatoes, diced
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
8 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper

Place four large squares of aluminum foil on counter. Put one diced potato on each piece of foil. Divide celery and onions evenly among the four potatoes and add two tablespoons of butter to each. Season with salt and pepper. Wrap each potato packet by bringing two sides of the foil together and folding to seal. Then fold over other two sides. Place each packet on campfire or grill and cook over medium heat for 20 - 30 minutes, turning once halfway through.

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