While we walked through the Rock House shortly after we moved in, Shannondale Director Jeff Fulk had noted in passing that the old overstuffed rocking chair with the springs sticking out of the seat had seen better days. No one could sit in it comfortably without one of the springs poking him in the wrong places. I thought he was probably right.
It happened a couple of days later, after we had been out working in the rain most of the day. When the time came for the campfire that evening, and the temperature was warm and inviting, we looked around for dry kindling, but most of the wood on the forest floor was well-soaked from the day’s downpour. The evening was too nice to waste after a nasty day, so we gathered around the campfire pit anyway. Jim Wilson was ready to tell some tales. The rest of us couldn’t compete, but we could add a few tidbits to keep him going. But what is a campfire circle without a campfire?
The old chair came to mind. Inside. Dry. Just a few yards away. I had a hatchet. I asked for a couple of volunteers to come with me. Soon we were lugging the old chair outside into the campfire area.
Some of the members of our party registered some reservations. Nonchalantly I noted that we had enough money to replace the chair. I chopped off a few pieces and got a fire going, enough to dry out some damp wood and keep it going. Then for whatever reason—I don’t remember—I left the scene. When I returned someone (or ones) had toppled the remainder of the chair onto the fire and the resulting blaze was reaching as tall as the bottoms of the pine tree overhead. Fortunately for us, the tree was still wet from the day. Fearing the worst I called for help to bring some buckets of water from the house, and we successfully dampened the blaze down to a manageable size before the tree above us caught fire.