Not Enough Boil-Ups
By Dennis Squires of Clarenville, Newfoundland
Here in Newfoundland there are tons of old trails and scenic shores to explore through hiking, hunting and even fishing, or more precisely, trouting. Anytime you go in the woods or near a beach, a cup of tea from a "boil-up" is most welcome.
In order to have a proper boil-up, you must have the most basic, yet most important item: a kettle. Any type will do as long as it can withstand a fire, but in Newfoundland and Labrador this quite often takes the form of a large juice can with an old piece of wire tied near the top. This will allow the "kettle" to be hung over an open fire after filling it with enough water for a good hot cup of tea. Of course, no boil-up would be complete without some homemade bread, which can be toasted if you have the technology, namely a freshly cut alder sharpened to a point so you can "skiver" the bread on the end of it. Only a green alder will do, to keep the stick from burning while the toast is being made. Now, if you really think you are going to be hungry you can bring along a piece of bologna and heat it, too, over the fire. Makes me hungry just thinking about it!
I retired awhile ago and now have lots of time for boil-up outings. Usually I have company when heading in the woods, and I have found that while walking, the rest of the fast-spinning world with its worries over terrorism, pollution, corruption, crime and other stressors seems left behind. As we walk farther down the trail or along the shore, I begin to think of what is truly important or should be important in my life: perhaps it becomes clearer in the silence often broken only by a chattering squirrel, a fluttering bird or waves washing on shore. Many times the conversation turns to positive topics, such as how good it is to be healthy enough to take this hike, or how fortunate we are in Newfoundland and Labrador to be able to take these walks without fear of being harmed. When my wife and I take these little hikes, we talk about what is important in our lives, about our children and about what we can do to maintain a close relationship with family.
And always we stop for a boil-up. After the fire is crackling and the water boils, a good hot cup of tea is made and we settle in for a snack. As we sit there staring into the fire, hypnotized, we each seem to reflect inwardly about our lives. Not only about the past, but also the future and how we can best live our lives to the fullest. Our conversation turns to topics not usually discussed, maybe just because we had previously not taken the time to bring them up. As the fire's flame simmers to hot coals, we boil a second cup of tea. The conversation continues to flow easily and by the time the fire is out we have talked about "stuff" we haven't brought up for a while. Once the fire finally fades into the ground, we bury our pit, pack up the kettle and head back to the "real world."
There have been lots of boil-ups over the past few years, and I have come to realize the therapy in boil-ups. We need them. First of all, there is the physical exercise that is so important for good health. Then there is the mental health benefits from discussing difficult problems in the confidence that those around the fire can be trusted to leave the stories back where you boiled up.
We all scurry about in our busy lives, too often not taking time to be still and just listen to each other. In this world of increasing technology, our children have become more connected with their friends through the wizardry of cell phones and computers, while parents have become less connected with them. We need to ask our kids to help with the fire, carry the kettle, sit in front of the flickering flame and dream along with us. Don't wait until the fire has gone out!
You may not be able to go on a boil-up as often as you would like, but you know there are other ways to have a boil-up. Sometimes just sitting for a chat with someone, with or without tea, is important. Now that my most active years are behind me, I feel quite confident in recommending to everyone that boil-ups are necessary for relationships. The key is to share time with your spouse, children, relatives, friends or anyone else who could use a little chat. I have come to realize that, without a doubt, there are not enough boil-ups in our lives.