I have always liked Buddhist sand paintings, where a group of monks meticulously “paints” a mandala or some other scene from Tibetan Buddhist Cosmology with tiny grains of sand. Depending on the size of the finished painting this process can take quite a while. Then after they have finished the monks leave the finished product for a while before sweeping it away. Kind of inspires me as real art because I don’t think of art as the finished product, like a drawing, sculpture or painting, but as the process of creating it.
So could building a campfire/bonfire be thought of the same way? Camping is certainly an art. And most of the skills campers need to know are akin to an art as well. There is an art to choosing a campsite, pitching a tent and of course, to getting a fire going. Anyone who hasn’t had the privilege of making a campfire might just think all it requires is some wood and a match, and in essence that is really all that is required. But after building several one begins to learn that to build a proper campfire takes a little bit more than just that.
I enjoy camping and love building a campfire. It takes a lot of work, even with matches or a lighter to get it started. You have to start with tinder, get some kindling, arrange it just so, get it going, and then depending on the size of the fire or duration of fire you want, start adding bigger and bigger hunks of timber. Every part of the process needs attention, from what type of wood you will be using to whether you are building your blaze for cooking or warmth or light.
I try to build mine so they get going with just one match and without the need for gas or lighter fuel or anything like that. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. But I think of building them as a kind of art not unrelated to Buddhist sand paintings. Because in the end, after all the work involved in creating the blaze, you aren’t left with anything at all. Just ashes…