Have you ever found yourself in the middle of nowhere with a can of unopened beans and raw steak but the campfire you intended to cook it with won’t stay lit? Yeah, I’ve been there. Okay, I know. That’s a specific scenario that I’ve outlined for you. If you can’t relate to it specifically, I understand. But I’m sure we all have had times where things weren’t working out for us how we hoped.
Let’s cut back to my scenario. There we were, my wife and me. Our camp was all set up. The tent was pitched. Canopy up. Everything unpacked. It was time to sit down to a nice steak dinner cooked over the open campfire. I had brought a can of beans to cook alongside it. We simply needed to get the fire going, find the can opener, and get cooking. But there were two problems.
The can opener was nowhere to be found and the fire wouldn’t stay lit. It wasn’t getting hot enough to catch the logs. What a blunder this had turned out to be. And did I mention we were camping for my birthday? Sure, we could have hooked up the propane stove and seared the steak. But that wouldn’t have tasted as good. And it also didn’t solve the problem of opening the can of beans.
So, I took out my knife and went about opening the can manually. Let me tell you, that’s not as easy as I thought. But eventually, I was able to pry the lid free. Step one, complete. Step two was now underway. Get the fire hot enough to burn the logs. I bring fire starters with me when we camp and those just weren’t cutting it. So, I improvised.
As the sun began to set, I went off in search of anything dry I could use to stoke the flames. It was May in Florida, which means summer. Which means, rainy season. Finding something dry was easier said than done. I was able to find several Sabal Etonia, which is fancy for palm fronds, that were brown and dead. I collected as much as I could and returned to the fire. Getting the firestarter log going, I slipped a handful of palm fronds on top. And the fire roared to life. Now, these are a good temporary solution, but the leaves burn fast. So, I continued to slip more in and fan the flames until finally, the logs began to catch and actually burn.
That night, we ate a nice steak dinner and beans cooked over the open fire. The next morning, I woke up early to take pictures of the sun rise of the preserve and decided to get a little editing done on the book I was writing at the time. Death Can Wait. A book about a couple swept ashore an island inhabited by people who would do them harm. Luke and Renee must survive the island and escape with limited survival skills. I just so happened to be editing a scene where the two of them are struggling to light a fire. So, I thought, why not introduce a little truth. And now, Luke and Renee discover palm fronds which help them light a fire of their own.
In my experience, writing inspiration can come from anywhere. You never know what’s going to make it in the final version. And if you think of something to add to a scene based on personal experience, I would highly recommend it. That always gives your writing a little bit more flavor of truth. And then it gives you a fun story to talk about years later when you’re being interviewed on the Tonight Show and asked about your books! But one step at a time. And if you take anything away from today’s post, let it be this. If you go camping and want to cook a thing of beans, don’t forget the damn can opener.
Until next time, keep wandering. Just not alone.
To cover up his search history, Evan Bond is a thriller/suspense author. As an outdoor enthusiast and horror lover, Evan Bond enjoys writing stories where the two come together. He lives in Florida with his wife and two sons.