Michael Row the Boat Ashore to Where Your Ears Hang Low

It’s Gratituesday! Campfire songs fill my head this time of year. I grew up in the era just before “Kumbaya” hit the sarcasm wave. I’m certain I never knew what it meant, but it sounded nice with a fire glowing on everyone’s faces and a few people throwing in harmony. Same with the “Michael Row the Boat” song.



Campfire (Photo credit: JelleS)


When I was half-pint, then there was this young woman and her dog that wandered into campsite. We were there with a bunch of other families, so we were a pretty rowdy and varied group. This lady managed to make a pretty big impression on every one of our from what I could tell. Maybe it was her story, but I think it was her music.


Hiking and hitchhiking across the country, with her guitar strapped to her back, she’d join whatever group looked interesting and offered hospitality and a meal. She played sang a lyrical song and her dog looked properly mournful, then she played and sang some upbeat stuff and her dog’s ear perked up. I decided that very night I was going to hitchhike across the country with my dog and guitar and bring joy and music to people’s lives. Fortunately for my mother’s sanity I lost that dream somewhere along the road.


But the singing outdoors around a campfire, that never left me. It’s firmly wedged into a permanent spot next to my heart.


My cousins sing this really hilarious version of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” I haven’t mastered this one yet. Gotta work on it at this year’s reunion.


A bunch of years ago I learned a camping song about “MILK!” of all things. Fell in love all over again with the singing thing. During part of the chorus you do some cow milking action while you sing, “Moo, moo, moo, moo.” It’s really fun, funny. Cute. Really, it is. Sorry, I guess you have to be there.


English: Campfire at fire ring, Canoe Island


That’s the thing. It doesn’t work unless you are there. Glow of the fire, smoke following beauty, a stick stirring the coals, marshmallows browning, a couple of good jokes, maybe even a scary story or two. Then the singing. Ah yes. Life is good then.


Campfire’s happen less and less often. Not for lack of camping, well, maybe, MSH would say we don’t camp often enough. Ninety percent of the time high fire danger restricts the building of campfires. Singing is less likely to happen without that glow to ward off critters and mosquitoes and, of course, to set the mood for a great tune or two.


The memories are almost enough though. There’s surely a bunch of ’em.


So what’s your favorite campfire song?


Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Music, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Michael Row the Boat Ashore to Where Your Ears Hang Low

  1. Janell

    My family sings a fabulous, upbeat, 3-part harmony version of “You Are My Sunshine” and my Dad strums the guitar. I always liked that song (Sunshine is the nickname my Daddy gave me when I was born) and was sad when I figured out that the lyrics are actually quite depressing! We sing it anyway…


  2. Anonymous

    Sing on LOVE, Sing on….



  3. Mama Jo

    How about “There’s a Long, Long, Trail a Winding” and you have to have “You are my Sunshine”. Those are a couple that I remember and It is a fun memory!! So glad you didn’t get to the point of hitchhiking across the country with ‘your dog’ and a guitar. It might havehelped is you had had a guitar you could play and a dog to help keep you safe. That really would have been a nightmare for this mother of yours!!!! I don’t remember the incident with the lady and her dog but Dad said he did. Guess it was just too long ago for me. Keep up the writing!! We so look forward to your blogs each day!!!!


  4. Have only taken up camping around a campfire in recent years (at 70 I’m a slow starter! ) and in our fire prone, sun burnt country not so many places allow fires in the open. But my best memories are when we have had a fire and the camp oven simmering and there is some one in the camp ground with a guitar. Ah the memories are to be savoured. Thanks for stirring up those memories Kami. 🙂


  5. Oh and I forgot to add the glass of wine in hand to share happy hour with new friends


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