They passed the snacks and treats, Oreos, smore fixings, pretzels, chips, and red vines, from hand to hand around the circle as the fire popped and spit in the middle. Whatever your preference you had a good option for salty and sweet, or both at the same time. The warmth of the fire on the outside was supplemented by the warmth of a glass of wine or whiskey on the inside. The cool night air was completely forgotten.
Just as the snacks were passed around, the stories and jokes were passed as well. “Do you remember the year…” “What was the name of…” “I still can’t believe that one time…” Round and round the circle, everyone talked, everyone listened, everyone shared as the conversations ebbed and flowed even as the fire died down only to be built back up again. “What time is it? Throw another log on and tell us about Wilbur…”
The younglings went to their beds to rest up for another day full of adventure when the sun rose the following day, just as the birds quieted down and settled in when daylight gave way to starlight so they too would be ready to rise with the sun again. The bats and owls came out and fleeting glimpses of their darting movements were caught winging by above the fire. The scurrying sounds of the nocturnal scavengers could be heard beyond the glow of the fire. All of these comings and goings were noticed and not noticed at the same time.
The group around the fire were aware of it all, but it all was lost in the moment, lost in the conversation, lost in the fellowship. There was no place any of them would rather be. There was nothing else any of them would have rather been doing.
Eventually the group quieted down and they allowed the fire to burn down to glowing coals. Still, they stayed, enjoying the company that didn’t required constant talk, enjoying the still mountain night, enjoying the dance of the embers as they lost themselves in thoughts and memories. One by one they stole away from the fire to find their tents and warm sleeping bags. They slept soundly, surrounded by the love of their family and friends, and wrapped in the embrace of the Sierra.