To Build A Fire – Summary
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To build a fire
The man trailed off the main Yukon trail.
There was snow everywhere, but there was no sun to shine upon it, the sun had not shown its face for many days. White everywhere, except for the small dark line which was the trail he had left behind.
It was cold, but the cold did not bother the man. He felt uncomfortable in the cold. But the cold was to be guarded against with clothes. He spat on the ground, the spit froze well before it hit the ground, a sign for the man that it must be below -50degrees.
He travelled light, only carrying his lunch. Alongside the man, travelled a Ð²Ð‚ÑšHuskyÐ²Ð‚Ñœ, a wolf-dog. The dog knew that this was no weather to travel in, it only wanted warmth.
As he exhaled more and more ice would form in his beard, he was chewing tobacco, and as he seeped the used tobacco from his mouth, the ice-beard got an almost amber-like colour.
His goal at the moment was to reach the forked path further ahead, where he would eat his lunch.
In the snow he was walking he came across dark paths which to the man indicated that there would be small water-pockets beneath the white surface, to get wet when the weather was this cold, could lead to truly dire consequences least of which he would be delayed and would not meet the boys back at the shack at six.
As a safety precaution he forced the dog to walk ahead of him while walking through the dangerous snow, suddenly the dog burst through the surface with its paws, the man dragged the dog back, it instinctively wanted to lick the ice that was forming between its toes, the man helped removing the ice, and then they continued.
His cheeks where numb from the cold, it certainly was cold.
He arrived at the road-fork by noon, just as he had planned, and celebrated this by sitting himself down on a tree-log to eat his lunch, he removed his mitten, but almost instantly as he did this, his fingers went numb from the brief exposure to the cold. Instead of putting the mitten back on, he started beating his hand towards his body, to create circulation to his numb fingers. He could not eat like this, he couldnÐ²Ð‚™t believe that he had forgotten to make a fire.
The old-timer at whereverthehellhecamefrom had warned him never to travel the Yukon alone when it was below 50degrees. Chuckling at the thought of old man who couldnÐ²Ð‚™t travel here alone, he made a fire, ate and he thawed away his amber-beard.
After a while he started moving again, the dog was disappointed it wanted back to the comforting warmth of the fire, but the man did not care about the dog, nor did the dog care for the man, their relation was a more slave-like relation then anything else, and the only caress it had ever received from the man was whip-lashes and shouts.
It only wanted back to the warmth for its own sake.
Suddenly when theyÐ²Ð‚™d travelled for a while it happened, what could not, should not happen, the man fell through one of the treacherous and concealed ice-pockets where only water was waiting for him, he pulled himself up, but the damage was done, he was halfway wet, angry and cursing his bad luck. He had to make a fire, and that fast, time was of the essence, his feet where already numb. He sat down by a tree to make fire, still cursing his luck this would set him back and he would not be able to reach the boys in the shack at six.
He managed to make the fire, reaching for branches from the tree and put them in the fire, but for every branch he tugged free from the tree, the snow-mass on top of it started loosen up, and suddenly it all fell down on the tiny fire.
Again cursing the man now got angry at himself for not having the mind to make the fire in the open. He had to make a new fire, and that fast! He tried beating some life into his hands but there would come no life to them.