I have this thing about building a campfire. It began as a kid when I was old enough to start chopping wood and light it myself. Back in the day, lighters were a luxury whereas match boxes were a dime a dozen. The goal I learned was to light a fire with just one solitary matchstick and you know what?! I became pretty darn good at it. Sure, it took me awhile to get the knack for lighting it on the first try, but it soon became my signature trait. I cannot take all of the credit, however, as I had the help of those good ol’ Zip chunks that were sold in that little black and orange labelled box. If you’ve been around campfires for a few decades like me, chances are that you know exactly what I am talking about. Zip even smelled the part of a fire, almost gasoline-like really. I wonder if they still sell it?
As I grew older and butane lighters were introduced to the market, my one match wonder lost out to the ultimate fire-lighting tool. I didn’t dare use a match for fear of looking uncool. I mean I had a teenage reputation to uphold and butane was in. (Remember those butane curling irons, ladies?! Not sure those were a great idea, but I sure got a lot of use out of mine.) While we always had matches around, I rarely broke them out as the years passed by. My childhood tradition faded, it just wasn’t hip anymore. Apparently, I wanted to be hip at one point in time. Thankfully, I outgrew that phase and rightfully returned to my roots.
I think it was at some point in my late 20’s, early 30’s, after a round or two (or ten) of drinks when I was outright laughed at for claiming to be able to start a fire with one match. Little did my camping posse know what I was capable of and so it began again–my love for lighting a campfire with just one single matchstick. To this very day, it is an absolute must that we travel with a matchbox at the ready. In fact, it is kept right handy inside our trailer doorway so that I can happily treat anyone to a roaring campfire done the good old-fashioned way.
Reluctantly, I should add that my husband has had to rescue me on a few occasions with his fire torch (what else would a man use?) when the wood or conditions have been too wet, but usually I can pull off my one match wonder trick even all of these years later. It’s a Sue thing and always will be! While we no longer have Zip, my new secret is really an old one in that some tightly balled up papers tucked strategically in amongst my teepee-like kindling almost always create the necessary sparks. Et voilà, woman has fire!