It may be well to call the reader's attention to the fact that it takes very little moisture to spoil the scratch patch on a box of safety matches and prevent the match itself from igniting. The so-called parlor match, which snaps when one lights it and often shoots the burning head into one's face or on one's clothes, is too dangerous a match to take into the woods. The bird's-eye match is exceedingly unreliable on the trail, but the old-fashioned, ill-smelling Lucifer match, sometimes called sulphur match, the kind one may secure at the Hudson Bay Trading Post, the kind that comes in blocks and is often packed in tin cans, is the best match for woodcrafters, hunters, explorers, and hikers. Most of the outfitting stores in the big cities either have these matches or can procure them for their customers. When one of these matches is damp it may be dried by running it through one's hair.
Nowadays manual labor seems to be looked upon by everyone more in the light of a disgrace or punishment than as a privilege; nevertheless, it is a privilege to be able to labor, it is a privilege to have the vim, the pep, the desire and the ability to do things. Labor is a necessary attribute of the doer and those who live in the open; no one need attempt so simple a thing as the building of a fire and expect to succeed without labor.
One must use the axe industriously (Figs. 39, 42 and 43) in order to procure fuel for the fire; one must plan the fire carefully with regard to the wind and the inflammable material adjacent; one must collect and select the fuel intelligently.
The shirk, the quitter, or the side-stepper has no place in the open; his habitat is on the Great White Way among the Babylonians of the big cities. He does not even know the joys of a fire; he never sees a fire except when some building is burning. His body is heated by steam radiators, his food is cooked in some mysterious place beyond his ken, and brought to him by subservient waiters. He will be dead and flowers growing on his grave when the real fire-makers are just attaining the full vigor of their manhood.
Captain Belmore Browne says that the trails of the wilderness are its arteries; we may add that all trails proceed from camp or lead to camp, and that the camp-fire is the living, life-giving, palpitating heart of the camp; without it all is dead and lifeless. That is the reason that we of the outdoor brotherhood all love the fire; that is the reason that the odor of burning wood is incense to our nostrils; that is the reason that the writer cannot help talking about it when he should be telling
Do not forget that lighting a fire in hot, dry weather is child's play, but that it takes a real camper to perform the same act in the damp, soggy woods on a cold, raw, rainy day, or when the first damp snow is covering all the branches of the trees and blanketing the moist ground with a slushy mantle of white discomfort! Then it is that fire making brings out all the skill and patience of the woodcrafter; nevertheless when he takes proper care neither rain, snow nor hail can spell failure for him.