My mom is clearing the dishes, it's 10:00 PM.
"I'll go make a fire." Says my dad.
For the past couple of years, my dad and I have had this ritual of enjoying s'mores together in my parent's backyard. He builds a Boy Scout worthy teepee with sticks and logs in his Father's Day portable fire pit, then puts "Boy Scout water" on it before setting it ablaze. My job is to set up the tray with marshmallows, graham crackers (split in half) and Hershey's chocolate (portioned out for individual servings). I try not to overload the tray, knowing that we will continue to make s'mores until the supplies run out (sometimes I go inside and get more graham crackers and chocolate, if the conversation is really good and not nearing an end). We talk a lot about the past, memories of Gull Lake, camp, and family vacations.
This is S'mores Club.
My dad and I have a tendency to talk about all the "clubs" we are in:
- Book Club (We talk about reading stuff together, but we normally just chat)
- Tea Club (For drinking tea, and talking)
- Fat Club (For when we are trying to lose a few pounds together, again, mostly just talk, and thwarted by S'mores Club)
S'mores Club is incredibly relaxing. The fire is usually the remains of our Christmas Tree, and the aroma of sap mixed with sensual smoke is as intoxicating as baby powder. The huge trees in the half acre backyard swish and shhh as water trickles in the garden fountain.
I like my marshmallows fried. Just totally burnt to a crisp. Sometimes I try to be civil and go for a golden brown, but then I say to hell with it and torch the thing. My dad does the same thing. Every time we get a real flamer, I have to tell the story about when a flaming marshmallow fell on top of my hand at Jidana Day Camp. My dad never remembers this one. "Remember dad? You had to put stuff on it because I got those blisters?"
We talk about our memories of our Samoyed, Kodi, and how he always added a layer of interest to S'mores Club. He used to get his leash tangled around the fire pit, and then he would look at us expectantly, blinking his long white eyelashes. Sometimes Kodi would get the remnants of a s'more, and he would crunch it with a bit of foam collecting at the corner of his massive mouth. Craw, craw, craw, the satisfying sound of our dog enjoying his little piece of the Club.
My dad and I share our philosophies on life during S'mores Club. Phiosophy intermixes with past memories and future hopes. "Maybe it's all just about this or that... I remember when I thought that in the past I would... Oh, remember the time you videotaped our drive through the Black Hills in South Dakota!... Dad, you think I will ever get married?...."
My mom usually skips S'mores Club, as s'mores are not as enticing a treat for her tastes. But she joined us last week, and the three of us talked about the what ifs of life and I found myself wishing that my West Coast brother were there. We would talk about airplanes and paragliding. I would trail off in my thoughts, enjoying my brother at the offspring helm for a bit.
Then my mom would look at her watch and say, "I hate to be the bad guy, but..." and my dad would say, "Well, to be continued..." and my brother would say, "Suze, let me play you this one new song..." The four of us would watch the orange embers turn to red, and, if life were sweet, we would plan our road trip to Yellowstone and Glacier National Park with our winnings from the Powerball lottery.