English instructor James McCullough, at North Central Michigan College, in Petoskey, asked his students to write essays about Northern Michigan life. Then he asked MyNorth to share six of the essays on the World Wide Web. We said yes. We are posting one each weekday until the set is complete. Enjoy the piece below by Leann Farkas.
I shut the TV off, hoist myself off the couch to grab a water and look outside to see my dad, sitting alone, drinking his beer, burning the trash. Putting on a hat and grabbing a sweatshirt, I snuggle into it as I make my way to the fire, dragging my chair behind me. My dog Hazel greets me halfway to the campfire and I stop to pet her, then continue on my way. I sit down; pulling my hat down as a chill from the evening breeze spreads down my spine, I listen to the corn stalks rustle in the fields. I see the leaves transforming to crimson, rustic orange and gold. As the temperature drops the night sky creeps toward darkness, like shadows blocking the light, with the night chasing away the cloudless, sunburst sky.
Soon it will be too dark to see, but that doesn’t matter, I am surrounded by my father and sister. I hold my stick to the fire in hope of lighting the end, catching a flame, and lifting it up near my face to watch the spark dim and the smoke waft into the night. My sister dons a stick of her own; my dad says something, and I peel my eyes away from the wisps of smoke long enough to half-listen, before turning back to the fire.
Yellows and oranges leap before my eyes, as I watch the flames. Swirling and curling around each other, moving like a swarm of insects. I’m intrigued with the knowledge that this beauty could cause destruction if let loose, and yet, brings me warmth and comfort.
My dad puts another log on the fire; the ashes fill the night sky like twinkling stars, burning hot before losing their glow. By now the stars have appeared in the sky and add to the quiet and calmness that has settled since the first flame appeared. It rounds ten o’ clock and as the log crumbles to ash I watch the flames diminish; the end is near.
A spell broke once the last of the fire smokes out. I stand up and spray water into the fire pit, gathering up my belongings. One by one we leave the calmness behind, with nothing more than smoking embers lingering in the night.