Tea...for one

Tales from Cabin 14

“It was at that point I noticed that our large mesh cook tent had been transformed into a large cook tent frame. This was because a good portion of the mesh, that had once formed the walls of the tent, was either missing entirely, or had a huge gaping hole in it.

 Every time I asked for an explanation, they just laughed harder and harder, and it was several minutes before they calmed down enough to sketch out the story…”

Tea is one of those commodities that most of us can relate to in one-way or another. It has been grown and/or brewed for centuries in most parts of the world, comes in a staggering assortment of types and flavours, helped kick start a war of independence, and references to it pop up in most books about the fur trade and early northern exploration.

Phrases such as “mug-up”, “boil-up” and “brew-up” appear with great regularity when describing teatime in the far north. The reason many of those earlier adventurers drank tea, was because coffee was hard to come by, it was expensive, and many of them were English – so what else would you expect them to drink? And, while they may have been roughing it, they were not barbarians. 

Lying in our tent one morning, my bunkmate and I could hear voices coming from the general direction of the cook tent. “Good” I thought to myself. “Someone is up and will hopefully start breakfast, so once I get a whiff of the coffee brewing, I will saunter on down and offer to help drink it.” Being rather comfortable and warm, I was in no particular hurry to join the breakfast crew, but the voices were getting louder, I could now hear what sounded like laughter and then someone quite clearly said, “Let’s see if any of them notices.”

That was all the incentive either of us needed to forgo the comforts of our tent, and find out exactly what the others were up to. Once I crawled out, I saw the three members of our breakfast crew standing beside the cook tent literally doubled over with laughter. When asked what was so damn funny, their only response was to laugh even harder. It was at that point I noticed that our large mesh cook tent had been transformed into a large cook tent frame. This was because a good portion of the mesh, that had once formed the walls of the tent, was either missing entirely, or had a huge gaping hole in it.

Every time I asked for an explanation, they just laughed harder and harder, and it was several minutes before they calmed down enough to sketch out the story.

If you happen to read the instructions clearly printed on the underside of the lid on a Coleman Camp Stove, safety warning number three, unequivocally states that you should NEVER, change the propane cylinder if there is an open flame near by. Not having read the safety warnings, and in particular, number three, someone attempted to change, what he believed was an empty cylinder on one stove, while our other stove, which had been fired up to brew the morning coffee and fry the breakfast bacon, was no more than six inches away.

Once the “dead” cylinder was partially unscrewed, the residual gas hissed out (they never entirely empty out, which explains the reason for safety warning number three), and the flame from the other stove arced over, setting both the cylinder and stove ablaze. Not realising that the sudden blast of heat had melted away most of the mesh in a matter of seconds, the three Caballeros were all attempting to climb over one another, frantically trying to undo the zipper on the tent door so they could escape, when they could have just as easily stepped out through one of the holes where the walls had once been. They would have done the Keystone Cops proud.

One brave soul eventually ventured back, and managed to toss the stove and rogue cylinder out onto the sand, which likely prevented our entire stock of propane, and the remaining contents of the tent from going up in flames. I didn’t ask if he used the door this time around.

After calm had been restored, I asked why they bothered to fire up the second stove. In reply, one of the guys just shook his head, and while casting a sidelong glance in the general direction of where one particular member of the breakfast crew was standing said:

“All this happened because some asshole wanted a cup of tea.”

Last modified onTuesday, 17 March 2015 16:50
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