The Allure of Elusive

Elusive.  Mysterious. Hard to figure out or find. By my own definition, anyway. That which is considered elusive also seems to intrigue, doesn’t it? It’s kind of an interesting concept. Maybe because of our natural curiosity, much like that of our feline companions, which are often described as elusive. Cats, people, words, lost keys, paintings, the ‘Caramilk secret’, the notion of “BigFoot”, a Lotto win—all of these things could fit under today’s word prompt, along with many others that I’m sure have crossed your mind. Undoubtedly, the list could go on. But, let’s look more closely at one which is quite obvious. Fire.

Fire is one of the ever elusive elements of nature. Like it or not, it exists and we rely on it for many things in daily life, as has been the case since the beginning of time. It provides a source of heat, it burns, it cooks, it destroys, it creates a backdrop, it becomes a conversation point, people pay a lot to ‘watch it’ (i.e. fireplace, campfire), it employs a fleet of people who try to put it out, it helps nature regenerate itself, and it can leave deep, residual scars. Despite its chameleon-type nature and its many roles–some good, some bad–you have to admit that it is rather fascinating. And, its unpredictability is what even draws some people specifically to it, similar to storm chasers who thrive off of crossing paths with real live twisters. You wouldn’t find me out looking for a tornado, but you would be able to find me sitting around a fire, as I have on many an occasion. For others, its devastating ability is what keeps them far from it or living in constant fear, especially those who have had negative experiences with it. I can only imagine. One thing is for sure, however, and that is that most everyone that you come across can tell you a story about fire, be it interesting or otherwise, and sometimes they do so while sitting around one. As part of a camping family, we have all shared many an hour, many a story and a lot of good laughs while hanging out around a campfire. In that respect, fires undoubtedly have many of their own tales that they could tell about us, if they could talk. Just as with people gathered around a fireplace in someone’s home. One tale comes to mind for me that just so happens to tie in nicely with today’s word, elusive.

A few years ago, my brothers, myself and a friend were sitting around a fire at our lake lot. It was quite late, as the others had all turned in for the night. I will admit that some of us had had a few drinks. Of course, the conversation was lively and we had no intention of ‘calling it quits’. In mid-sentence, the youngest of my two brothers stopped suddenly. Something had caught his eye. His friend also paused. Both of them were looking the same direction. My other brother and I weren’t exactly sure what was going on, as we saw nothing. It was unlike either of them to become so wide-eyed and the hush that fell over them spoke more than the silence of just their words. After a few seconds, each would say that against my parents’ trailer, an unusually large dark shadow had been cast, as if something had been standing on its hind legs, but not. At first, we thought that they were ‘putting us on’ or that they had indulged in their beverages a little too much, as we didn’t see anything of the sort. But they insisted, swearing up and down, that whatever they saw was enormous! Indeed, they had no time to corroborate on any kind of story. We suggested that they had maybe seen a bear…maybe, but even at that, they seem unconvinced of what it was, each agreeing with the other that it was something never before seen. I wasn’t convinced of any it, until both guys (each over 6 feet and two hundred pounds) got up from their chairs shortly thereafter and decided to ‘head to bed’, claiming that they were not about to hang around in case it came back. Hmmm. To this day, we have no idea what it is that they thought they saw, but it was enough to startle both could-be quarterbacks and abruptly end our late-night bonfire session.

Believable to you? Maybe, maybe not. But, it is a true story, as best as I can recollect the details anyway. As far as what I think about it all, I still don’t know. ‘The figure’ that they saw however was very elusive, even if in their minds simultaneously. That night’s sighting was only spoke of a handful of times afterward, and if you were to ask them about it now, my guess is that they would both stand by their version of events. In case you are wondering…we do still sit around the fire late at night, just as we plan to tonight. Who knows what’ll happen? Meanwhile, enjoy this night shot of nature’s wonder taken a couple of summers ago.  We found ourselves mesmerized, once again, by its elusive flames.

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