I remember going into my good buddy Eric Osth’s garage at about age 7, right when the full curiosity of fire had ignited in both of us. We grabbed the lawnmower gas can and hiked down his backyard slope into the Ravine stream.
“You can’t light water on fire Erik, they use water to put out fires so there’s no way.
“Yeah but let’s just see”
I proceeded to pour the gasoline into the 4 foot wide stream. I dragged the can about 50 yards like I had seen Wilie Coyote do. Then stood at one end with a matchbook and Eric Osth stood apprehensively at the other end giving me a shaky thumbs up.
“OK ready” I yelled, filled with the anticipation of one of the Wright brothers before takeoff. I struck the match and vastly underestimated the magnitude of the flame. I was leaning over the initial gas pool. The flame erupted with anger and arrogance as to say “you unimaginative children, of course I can light on water, what kind of weak force of nature do you take me for, now I will take your eyebrows as a down payment for what I’m about to show you”
The flame raced downstream. Eric Osth resembled a scared matador standing before a hot, charging bull. As the flame quickly approached his eyes grew and in a desperate flee he dove into the stream. I’m not sure what he was thinking. My best guess is that he had been watching too much Dukes of Hazard and thought the flame would culminate at the end of the gas trail in a huge explosion that would vaporize everything within 30 yards, unless of course you were protected by 2 inches of water, then you were safe. I guess I can’t criticize his fire acrobatics considering his eyebrows survived the endeavor.
Our adventures in the ravine were often times (when necessary) followed by awkward confessions to our parents. I say when necessary because when I arrived home having misplaced my eyebrows, covered in blood or with frost bitten feet it was impossible to avoid an explanation. The ravine served as an innocuous arena for mischief for all kids in my neighborhood. It was our stage, gym, jungle, sledding hill, science lab, our confidant and teacher. It was our world.