In my grandfather’s final years, he used to sit outside behind his house at a picnic table and watch the wildlife. And when he got too sick to sit outside, he sat on the front porch and watched wildlife—squirrels mostly. He had names for many of them.
I was a teenager at the time, and I have to say, I didn’t really get it. I had places to go and people to see, as we used to say. While I gladly spent time with my grandfather at the picnic table and front porch, I couldn’t imagine finding fulfillment in such simple things the way he did.
Fast forward thirty-five years, and you’ll probably find me sitting around a fire pit many fall weekends. I have a couple of friends who are talking about inviting a few of us over to gather around the fire. There’s something about hearing the snap and crackle of a good fire on a brisk evening while talking about whatever comes to mind that is so satisfying.
If it were up to me, I’d sit around the fire pit a couple of times a week. I seem to have a greater affinity for doing so than many of my friends though, so I don’t do it as often as I’d like. I’ve thought about that this week as we welcomed in fall, and images of my grandfather sitting by himself outside came racing back to my mind. It made me think I need to enjoy a good fire more often, even if it means doing so by myself.
The problem is, I moved a couple of years ago, and the house I live in now sits in what I can only describe as a bowl. Several houses behind mine can look down into my backyard, making privacy feel impossible — especially since they all have decks. I feel like a pet goldfish back there. But maybe I need to do it anyway.
I’ve done a lot of things by myself in public. I’ve gone to movies, out to eat, to baseball games, concerts and more. Why not sit by the fire by myself once in a while? I might just tap into what my grandfather experienced.