Campfire and being in the dark

The word ”campfire circle” includes the whole culture of being in the dark, manners,that we have lost. Almost everyone wants to experience, at least once, the night outside, but no more. Campfire circle is a relic of something old. Ivan Turgenevs Forest’s memoirs take us  to the 1850s Russia, where culture of campfire was far richer than at the present.

Campfire circle refers to light of the fire in the middle of dark wilderness. Brightly burning fire darkened the environment. Bears and wolves comes at your thoughts, ghost stories become fascinating.And when the fire gets smaller in obscurity you may figure tree trunks, black, glittering water. The stars will appear to you only after withdrawing from the light of the campfire circle.

Turgenev tells how a man will get lost in the darkness and must stay overnight at the forest.

Overnight in the woods and getting lost. and magic fears in the campfire will be the key elements in Turgenevs story called ”Byezhin Meadow.” The story tells of the man who wanders at the woods at night and finally finds the campfire circle of boys. The story below is an emotional journey: getting lost, uncertainty and fear are the catalyst of an adult man’s experiences that at the end he is in the same state of mind with the boys, who tell horror stories and fears of the night.

At first the man is enchanted when the light of the day fades away. The forest darkends and the obscure night and the silence comes. First comes the evening dusts,it drifts near the ground. Then the darkness grows and comes close, at last dark descends from the sky over the voyager. Silence is inalienable. That what happens in low light, appears all as sudden events.

”All around me had suddenly darkened and silenced – only a partridge made voice now and then then. Small nightbird,flying low slipped silently on soft wings, it was flying straight at me, but then swinged frightened away.”

Familiar scenes of films, in which people are moving in the nightly woods, describes the same thing. Sudden and unexpected voices seldom come out so nuanced as in Turgenev’s report. Sudden happenings, are important part of walking in twilight of the woods. The question is not of panic but a kind of foreseeing. Ability to walk in the low light are built in foreseeing and sudden happenings. Anyone who has walked a lot in low light, knows that sudden happenings are a sign of cognitive vitality – they express the way of being on guard.

The only really scary thing is Turgenevs description of irrational feeling, that haunts the traveler who has get lost in the forest. The camping place that would have been the best and most protective place to stand, made a kind of scary feeling for him, and he rejects it because of the strange atmosphere.

” A strange feeling came over me. This basin was almost regular, whith boiler-shaped edges, at the bottom of it loomed a few white rocks, and it was so silent and quiet here, so dull and sad was the sky above it, all that shook my heart so I must leave the place.”

The man continues walking in the forest, calms down and walk changes monotonical. Suddenly, he is aboutto fall into a gorge. Deep down, he barely distinguishd a dark and sparkling river. Numbing and confident walking in a forest was quite near to turn an accident, but vigilance saved him.

At the same time a story gets at its top point. Lost wanderer realizes where he is, a deck is called the exhaust meadow. He noticed the glowing campfire from the district, and the characters who moved in its light. This observation is followed by Turgenevs enchanting campfire circuit description:

”Around the campfire was shivering light, it confined to the darkness its reddish light; flame threw sudden fames outside the circle of light flashes, the tongue of thin-fire slips bare willow branches and disappears at the same moment: sharp long shadows turns and bursts upon the fire: the darkness fought against light. When the flame burns in less light and when the district fell from piercing the darkness suddenly raised dark brown head of a horse, with white stripe on the forehead, it looked interested and bland-looking at the same time, biting tall grass and at same time disappearing from sight.”

After this the story centers in the campfire, the withdrawal or approaching of darkness, the fear goes away. Sometimes the fire gets bigger, sometimes it fades. The boys tell odd stories to each other, stories of dead and of the ghosts, and also the silent scary vally that was round as a cattle, gets its own ghost story.

The most scarry and the youngest shepherd boys pulled their furs and mats over their heads, so that only the face was to be seen in the campfire. Only one of the boys will venture in the darkness. He gets the dogs back, because they have runned away into the woods after getting a smell of some animal. Sometimes the boy will go away with a gun in order to find out what makes horses restless. Although the narrator fans of the boy’s courage, he must conclude that one year later this boy dies in an accident. When Turgenev describes being in the dark forrest, variation of fear and courage is not resolved.