Burning wood puts me in the moment. For several years we’ve had a large mound sitting, waiting for the right weather, a full day to tend the site, and the motivation to make it happen. Since then, I’ve changed tactics, moving to small piles to finish earlier.
My husband accuses me of being a firebug, and, he’s right. Campfires always mesmerize me; the dancing flames, the sheer force of the heat, the snap and crackle, not to mention the smell of smoke. A delight for all the senses.
Sunday was a perfect day for this ritual. The area received a bit of rain Friday, which would help keep the fire from spreading through the drought-stricken grass. The wind was predicted to be under ten miles an hour.
Just after sunup, I made my way to the bonfire, dew soaking my boots. In the distance turkeys gobbled, signaling a spectacular cloudless spring day.
I doused the bonfire with charcoal starter fluid and lit several spots with a long-reach BIC lighter. POOF! Flames shot up. Giddy, I moved to other stacks, repeating the same process, always in sync with my environment, aware of nature awakening, the coolness of the air, and other birds joining the chorus.
As required by the county, I called the sheriff’s office dispatch to report a controlled burn. He took down my name, location, and telephone number. People around here are so rattled when the see smoke, they call the sheriff. If the office knows a burn is taking place, they can check to be sure it is still in hand rather than sending out the volunteer firefighters.
My tools are a tractor with a front-end loader and a short-pronged rake. The tractor makes it easy to push the burning wood closer together to speed the burning process. The rake accomplishes this on the smaller fires.
As the morning wore on, the grass dried. Using the ATV with a water sprayer allowed me to water the edges of the fire to keep the grass from igniting.
Some nature folks believe you should leave the woodpiles for creatures to use as shelter. Personally, as a former firefighter, I’ve fought too many grass fires to be comfortable with large stacks of fuel lying around, especially in drought conditions. Additionally, leaving scattered wood on the ground makes it difficult to mow.
The most exciting thing after burning is walking into the house. The campfire smell in your clothes literally explodes, reminding me of wonderful weekend trips in my Girl Scouting days, cooking over campfires and singing around them at night.
Are you a firebug, too?