I got to looking at an old book the other day called Roughing It Easy. It's all about how to camp cook in style and has all kinds of recipes and outdoor cooking ideas to make your life afield more enjoyable. Well, I got to laughing to myself as I remembered a number of camp cooking learning experiences I was able to endure over the years and so having nothing else to write about at the moment I thought I'd share one of the most memorable ones with you.
The tent was setup in a strategic location; far enough away from the house so it would feel like being out in the wilderness, but close enough so if too many creepy crawlies creeped and crawled too close I could easily make a dash back to the house. The old army cot was wedged inside the tent with more blankets than the one hundred degree plus temps required piled on top.
There were numerous broken limbs lying around the yard and I gathered everyone of them I could find and built a small fire late that evening. That time of year in that part of the country it doesn't get dark until well after 9:00pm, and I couldn't wait to sit up at night around my campfire. What I didn't realize was just how much firewood would be required to last until then. For the next several hours as my campfire continued to burn down I would run around in the ever widening circles in ever increasing darkness looking for something to burn. My intent of course was to cook my supper over the fire after it got dark, but by that time, it was too dark to find any more wood to burn and my grandmother had fixed fried chicken whose aroma kept drifting across my campsite, so I ate inside that first night. But, I was determined to fix my own breakfast the next morning.
Morning was long in coming. Army cots are not the most comfortable of devises to sleep on and it was hot and the mosquitos swarmed inside my open ended tent. I'd pull the covers over my head to protect me from their blood sucking bites until I would get too hot and then have to come up for air. I've often wondered what it is about the inside of your ears that is such an attractant for mosquitos. They were constantly buzzing and dive bombing around my head and wanted to burrow deep into my ear cavities. The grasshoppers were thick that year and a number of them along with daddy longleg spiders turned the inside of my tent into a residence. It was a regular commune of mixed species trying to co-exist. That pretty much was the pattern all night. Somewhere between one of the coming-up-for-air bouts and the hoot owls and whippowills seranade I fell asleep.
By the next morning I was skeeter bit from top to bottom. But, I jumped out scattering grasshoppers as I tossed the blanket aside. I quickly gathered another arm full of firewood searching high and low for the fuel...rekindled the fire and ran to the refrigerator and extracted a couple of eggs and several strips of bacon. Using my old army surplus spit kit I commenced to burning the bacon and destroying the eggs. What I ended up with was part burnt bacon bits blended with rubbery eggs and egg shells pieces and probably a hapless grasshopper or two that managed to find their way into the mix when I wasn't looking...which by the way probably considerably improved the taste and texture of the meal. I loved it. I was now a genuine fully fledged camp cook.
Over the years just how much my camp cooking skills improved could be debated long into the
summer night. Although I've managed to graduate to a more modern approach to camp cookery, those first feeble attempts proved much more valuable in the long run. What has improved is my appreciation for having done those things. As simple and comical as those trials-by-error events were, they were none the less great learning tools for those time when a good sense of self became important. I guess my parents and my grandparents instinctively understood things like that. They allowed me to build my own self asteem through trial and error, mostly through error. It is amazing just how effective cooking burnt bacon and eggs over your very own campfire...and throw in a grasshopper or two...can be when it comes to building such things.
Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to look at it more closely. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out in a hammock...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Sometimes we pass by locations and never give them a second look. That is unfortunate because many of those places often provide great photo opportunities if we just take the time to see it. One such place is where a pond and barn are located just off the road on my way to work. I drive by it almost everyday, early in the morning and then again in the afternoon. I've seen it through various seasons and it changes its personality with each of those seasons and time of day. I've grown to like this location because by itself it defines the best of rural Kentucky and it has become one of my favorite photo op locations. I'd be willing to bet that most people drive by it and never see it.
Seeing is what separates a photographer from a snapshot shooter. Snapshot shooters tend to take random pictures of things rarely giving any thought to the lighting or composition. Every once and a while they will take a pretty good picture, usually more because of the high scenic value of the location that even a snapshot shoot couldn't foul up.
Although it is not always practical to do so, being able to photograph one location during different lighting events is a big time advantage. It gives you a sense of location and a feel for photographic value. That is why I encourage photographers to know their home range, to look for those iconic locations that define where they live and take advantage of being able to be there on any given day.
Oddly enough, this particular pond is no longer there. The year 2013 there was lots of rain and we live in cave country and that mean lots of sinkholes. One day I was drivng home from work and cast a quick glance at the pond as I passed by. The next morning as I passed by heading to work I through another quick glance and had to slow down to take a second look...the pond was gone and a large hole had opened up in the bottom near the outer edge and drained every last drop out of it.
It's still a scenic location, just the pond will no longer be a part of that scene. You neve know what might happen on any given day, so if you find a great location take advantage of it and capture its morning flavor and its evening taste through all the seasons. It may not be there one day.
at 9:11 AM