The Crusty Lantern

The Crusty Lantern

The red lantern sputtered to life. Instead of being bright, it belched orange flames out the top, and black smoke escaped the flames. As the fuel pipe warmed, the orange flames subsided and with a soft woosh the mantle popped to life and a warm, bright light illuminated the campsite.

The old lantern had been on many adventures with me over the years. It was no longer shiny and sometimes it took a bit of coaxing to bring it to life, but we share a lot of wonderful memories. As I stare into the light, many of those memories come back to me. In some ways, they are etched into the surface of the lantern itself.

There is the crack in the globe from a thunderstorm that caught me by surprise while I was napping near that trout stream in North Carolina. Just one errant drop of cold water on the hot glass and a battle scar was born.

The pot metal frame around the controls and globe are pitted and show signs of rust. No doubt from the many late night blood trails followed to recover deer, the lantern often set on the cold damp ground to serve as a trail marker.

Inside the globe are the lifeless remains of numerous moths, mosquitoes and other flying insects that were also hypnotized by its light during camping adventures from early spring through late summer. Below the glow, the fuel tank was smeared with grease spatter from countless meals cooked on its companion stove, under the very light it provided.

So many memories, numerous stories, experiences and life lessons, told and re-told under the light of this crusty, old lantern. Yet, this lantern is not different from so many just like it: each with their own stories to tell, their own scars and distinguishing marks. How great it would be to hear them all.