Reminiscing about my dad on this National Marshmallow Toasting Day, August 30.
If there was one thing my dad and I looked forward to at the end of a long day traipsing through the forest, clambering laboriously back and forth and up and down switchbacks and bushwhacking our way over and under fallen trees through dense underbrush and other infernal objects that impeded our access to yet another deep dark pool to catch illusive brook trout, it wasn’t toasted marshmallows.
It was hot Jell-O.
For one thing we were too tired to go to the trouble of retracing our steps to scrounge about for enough sticks and hunks of wood to build a campfire.
For another thing, trout fry just as well in a tin skillet heated by propane as they do over flaming logs.
Marshmallows not so much.
In the outback, marshmallows require pocketknife-sharpened sticks and a real, honest-to-goodness crackling, roaring fire that has long since – after singing ‘The Other Day I Met a Bear’ and telling ghost stories – died to embers-only red-hot warmth.
This my dad and I would indeed do but only on the first night. The next morning, day, and day after that, and the next, fishing was serious business and the reason why we came. Not marshmallows. Besides the whole bag was gone at the end of Day One.
If you’re not the hardy sort however, and your idea of adventure is to frequent the recently installed bricked-in BBQ using Presto logs purchased on the way home from the office, then straightened-out coat hangers will suffice.
On second thought, if you’re toasting – as opposed to roasting or igniting or charring – golden-brown marshmallows through a ceramic-tiled orifice, then you probably also have one or more official three-quarter inch quality constructed of superior material wooden handle roasting sticks with convenient leather loop for hanging. The Stainless Steel series (will not rust) might also have a handy handle crank for easy rotational cooking while maintaining maximum control, and multiple (depending on the number of children) reverse tines to help prevent accidental injuries. All of which cleans up easy with a scouring pad and water – the sticks, not the kids who are observing all goings-on safely from a distance.
Should those kids however attend camp and report back about the gooey, sticky, s’mores that they themselves created using flamed-out remnants including some charred bark scraped from the end of a glowing branch that had been sharpened with one whack of a shared axe and persuade you, dad, to try it but only in a suitable setting – mosquitoes without the mosquito net; scary stories told under the stars without the tent – then be sure to take along the brochure the government has published with “detailed instructions on how to safely roast marshmallows.”
Miss you dad.