we also spent lots of time in their front yard sitting and talking around the fire pit. it wasn't too hot or buggy, and we were plenty entertained just keeping the fire going or watching the fire burn. it gave everyone something visible to focus on. at the last float trip i went on i felt the same way about the campfire... i love it. it's the perfect backdrop for descent conversation.
i feel like we get together to stare at televisions these days, and nothing else. or you go to clubs to people-watch but that's driven by hormones, come on, you know it. but sitting around throwing stuff on a fire is just good wholesome fun. you tell stories, tell jokes. or sing pirate songs... apparently the public library has CDs of sea shanties that are great for pirate parties, and they're easy to learn! warning though... they will won't strike you as "fun party music" until after you are drunk.
so i'm going to go ahead and add "we don't sit around fires enough" to my list of reasons why civilization is declining. you hear about cultures sharing entire histories through stories around the fire at night, and wonder what's going to happen to us. we don't share each other's stories. if it's not interesting, it feels forced and we leave. but around a fire there's no need to force conversation... it just happens at its own pace in between adjusting logs and poking at hot coals.