Thursday, June 1, 2017

Burning desire

For the past several months, I've wanted to burn some brush in the yard. The timing just never seemed right, until today. This morning, the sky was partly cloudy with a chance of rain in the forecast. Temperature was a balmy 80ยบ. Despite the myriad things I had to do today, I figured this was as good a day as any to take care of the pile of branches and twigs already thrown into my makeshift burn pile.

I set out with my trusty Bic lighter. I thought I could start the pile by simply igniting a few dried leaves. That was a good idea, but not quite good enough.

Undaunted, I went into the house, grabbed some dryer lint and stuffed it into an empty toilet paper tube. I read somewhere that was an excellent fire starter. It might have been, had I not used too much of it. It was packed too tightly and just smoldered with that sickening smell of burnt hair. Oh, and it it died out before it could ignite any of the branches.

By this time, I had run the lighter out of fuel. I headed back to the house for a box of matches. I knew I had some, but I'd be darned if I knew where they were. Finally, after rifling through several kitchen drawers, I found a box of 36. That should do it, I thought.

I got several small fires started, but they quickly went out. I was starting to think this wouldn't be as easy as I thought. So, I tried a little more of my homemade firestarter. I used a tiny twig that was strong enough, yet small enough, to push some of the tube's contents back out. My twig also worked to rake a few dried leaves into the newly ignited flames. I used tiny twigs to catch on fire from the burning leaves. Finally, I coaxed larger twigs until I could get the branches to burn. It was a success. As the fire died down, I found more twigs and dried leaves in the yard. There is an abundance of both. Finally, I had a nice fire going.

I never learned how to build a fire. I was never a girl scout. Ironically though, when I was about 13 years old, I was a Camp Fire Girl. I don't recall ever learning to build a campfire.

Building a fire is such a primal activity. As I was arranging the burning pile and adding new dried leaves, I felt a real kinship to my ancestors. I just know my father had done this many times as a boy growing up in Michigan. It was probably a part of his routine summer chores. Thinking about that made me feel close to him.

I'm terrified of fire, so I will never abuse the practice, but burning is such a useful tool in rural areas. So much falls out of the trees that need to be disposed of. I want to make this a regular activity. I really enjoyed myself today.

Since my husband's illness more than two years ago, I find myself doing things I never did before, especially outdoor tasks. This is one of them that I really found enjoyable. There is a real sense of accomplishment when I look at the former tangle of branches in the circumference of my rock-lined fire pit. All that remains there now is a smoldering pile is ash.