It’s the first remarkably warm day since spring finally arrived, and boy, what a feeling. In Seaside, the sun is out in brilliant force at a balmy 70 degrees. The wind is unusually still and the sky a flawless blue in every direction. Last night in my back yard, the frogs were croaking their first spring ballads, celebrating the return of deliciously long days and fresh melodic nights. Frogs and crickets chirping at dusk always remind me that the evenings are no longer for huddling inside and watching TV. The gorgeous evenings demand to be experienced firsthand and there’s no better way to than to host a classic bonfire on the beach.
I think the experience of sitting around a fire with friends and family, beneath a sparkling dome of stars, taps into a kind of primal joy that human beings can relate to. Ordinarily, in our modern age, it’s pretty much standard to retreat indoors when night comes. But it’s exhilarating to break this habit, get out on the beach at sunset, and watch the world transition to nighttime. Sprawled around a beach bonfire, you can feel the pull of a timeless tradition. Story-telling and conversation take on an enchanting glow and the fire seems to pull everyone together in a more intimate way (s‘mores really have a knack for enhancing the experience as well).
These days, in the U.S.A., there aren’t a whole lot of places left that allow bonfires on the beach. Luckily, the tradition is preserved here in Seaside and has become an important part of coastal culture. You’ll find that most people who visit Seaside have a warm nostalgia for bonfire nights. If this is your first bonfire on Seaside’s beach, remember to use small pieces of wood only (large logs are prohibited). The fire must always be west of (and well away from) the beach grass and vegetation line. It’s also important to extinguish the fire with water (if a fire is merely buried, it will continue to smolder under the sand).
Now that winter is just a chilly memory, it’s time to get outside and reconnect with the rhythms of the outdoors. Grab your friends, pack up some snacks and firewood, and experience the coastal nights the way they were meant to be seen: around the dancing firelight and under the stars.
Do you have any special memories of bonfires on the beach? Share your stories with us here!