Around the campfire

Susan Manzke
Now Media Group

Most of our fun adventures this summer deal with members of the Manzke clan, but not all. Not too long ago I set about having a gathering of friends here.

Most Tuesday mornings you can find me at Sissy's in Seymour having coffee. This is not a solo cup of coffee but one shared with friends. This weekly event started years ago. I was invited to join by my friend, Colleen Sutherland. Driving into town on Tuesdays was a chore for me then, and I put off joining the group for a while. When I finally did make the time to go, my dear friend wasn't there. Cancer took her. I miss Colleen.

I continue going in for weekly coffee. Getting away from the farm and the computer is a good reason to go to town to meet friends. Our discussions range all over the map: flowers, vegetables, family, cars, crafts and, yes, politics. Because we are a bit wild, we gave our group a name. We are the Mixed Nuts.

The thought came to me one Tuesday to add to our groups' summer fun. That day, I invited everyone to our farm for a bonfire, including husbands and any other family members who wanted to come. The date was 10 days away.

Of course, when anyone plans an event in advance, they never know what to expect when it comes to weather. All week long, I checked weather alerts. At first we started out clear, but as soon as people accepted my invitation, rain popped up as a possibility.

I kept working toward our bonfire with the idea of clear skies. Past family gatherings were during meteor showers and such fun. It was my idea to share such a night with my friends.

The day arrived with rain still a possibility, though it should have held off until late night. I sent an email, moving our plans up to 7 p.m. instead of 7:30, figuring we'd get in a good two hours outside before the weather changed.

Bob and I lit the fire at 4. I wanted nice red coals ready to cook our hot dogs and toast marshmallows. It was so pleasant out. Bob and I pulled up our lawn chairs and enjoyed the campfire for an hour. Too bad I hadn't moved the gathering up a few more hours.

As the Mixed Nuts arrived, the western sky began to look dark. Because of the iffiness of the weather, I did not bring out any food. The backup plan was to go inside the house.

Friends settled near the burning fire. As usual, talk ranged in many different directions, especially the possibility of rain.

Weather apps were checked on cell phones. 'It's going to miss us,' I was assured as thunder rumbled in the darkening sky.

No one wanted to give up their comfy seat and head inside. I worried about all possibilities. Our group wasn't so young and spry anymore. One person was in her 90s, and another used a walker. Waiting for rain to come first before running for the house wasn't an option.

'We're going inside,' I insisted. (Groans from the group) 'Now!'

Everyone started to move, and we were settled comfortably around the dining room table before rain drops started falling.

Hot dogs ended up boiled, and marshmallows were forgotten — not even one s'more was eaten. Darn. Still we had a wonderful time.

That evening didn't bring wild winds. In fact, in our younger days, we might have stayed outside with the light rain falling on us and not given a care to getting wet or catching a chill. At this age, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Even with the move, it was a good evening with friends. One said she liked it even better inside with or without the rain. It was cozier and easier to visit around the table.

I may try again to have an evening bonfire. Let's hope it will be a time when stars are lighting up the sky and not lightning.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;;