Matfield Green - Our first years

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Fire in the wood chip pile

It stays light late here even this early in the year. When Pepper & I get up to walk in the morning at 6:15 the first red of the sun is just peaking through to guide our way down the path. Last night when we finished dinner - Bill and Elaine Jones, neighbors two doors toward town, came to the bunkhouse for fish and salad and a chocalate Easter bunny for dessert - at about 8:30, it was still light enough, and the wind was calm enough to consider burning part of the area that we call "The North Pasture."

Pat handled one propane torch, lighting the backburn along the north end of the bunkhouse. Bill took off toward town to light the headfire along the creek - really just a dry bed - 800 feet north of the house. Again, a tiny piece of pasture compared to what our neighbors were burning. Northeast of the bunkhouse and from 2 or 3 spots in the east, fire and smoke was pouring into the sky from the hills burning around us.

So, with Pat at one end and Bill at the other the burn began. I took hold of the garden hose, protecting a lilac bush, and then going to Pat's rescue as he fought a renegade blaze in the woodpile. I took a few picture, stroked the dog - who'd had a bath today - and contemplated the difference between men and women. This fire-setting is not physically strenuous. I could wield a propane torch with the best of them. But I'm not going to wrestle anybody for the chance. And I'm not going to feel too bad if the big-boys take the torches and I get left out in the cold.

After awhile of watching, I came in, washed the dishes, continued my effort to understand Pepper a little bit better by reading a few more pages of "How Dog's Think," and sooner than later, went to sleep.

This morning I awoke to a spectacular sunrise, highlighted by a line of flames still burning in a neighbor's pasture east of the highway, and a persistent fire in our woodchip pile. I grabbed the hose and the rake and went down to play fireman.

Not as easy as it looks.

Rake, rake, rake. Pour on the water. More water. Flame's gone. But step back a minute and smoke pushes up from below. Rake some more. Buried embers. More water. More water. More water.

Bill joined me, he with the rake, me with the hose. Easier this way. But still, a fire in the woodchip pile is a force to be reckoned with.


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