How to build a Campfire

First, there’s some important things you should know about trees.

Trees get most of their mass by absorbing CO2 from the air. They save and use the carbon and excrete the oxygen. As a result, when you burn a campfire, you are returning most of the molecules of a log back to their original state; as the smoke rises into the atmosphere, if you listen closely, you can hear tiny shouts of freedom. Poor little Carbon atoms, they had spent all those years confined in the fibrous bark and wood while their fellow oxygen molecules stopped by for a visit (carried on the backs of more Carbon atoms that were also destined for capture) and left again to fly through the air: perhaps to be inhaled by some aimless individual, then bound in the iron chains of hemoglobin, and finally hurled through the roller-coaster of his circulatory system—accelerated by the touch of a pretty girl’s hand in his own. Atoms and molecules lead such interesting lives.

Another thing you should know about trees is that when you split wood to burn in a campfire—your muscles fueled by the expelled Oxygen molecules of the nearby, living trees who look on in horror as you hack at their dead relative—you have to focus on swinging the splitter in a complete arc, aiming for an existing crack in the dried wood. The first split is always the hardest. After that, it’s structural integrity compromised, will break down further into smaller and smaller pieces without much effort. Or, you could rent a gas-powered, hyrdraulic splitter from your nearby store.

Burning gas is nice for trees, because even though they still have to watch your senseless butchery of their kindred, the machine that you use will, as it creates tiny explosions inside polished cylinders to drive pistons which turn gears to pump hydraulic fluid which pushes the blunt, metal wedge through the complex, organic, now-dead webwork of Carbon atoms that make up a tree trunk—as it burns the gasoline to create these explosions, the engine releases Carbon Dioxide into the nearby air, so at least the trees get to take a deep breath of fresh air, and, in their special way, use the energy from the sun, which has been traveling through first the vacuum of space and then the atmosphere of our planet for the past eight seconds, to blast apart the carbon atom from the two oxygen atoms. So that, if you split wood for a long time, you might end up breathing a molecule of oxygen that had originated in the combustion of gasoline in your hydraulic splitter.

And that’s what you should know about trees.

I’ll have to finish the rest of the instructions later. . .

P.S. here’s an interesting video about trees being made of air.



About Derrick

Derrick lives and works in South Carolina where he teaches English at a technical college and raises his two small children with his wife, Danielle.
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