Saturday, 5 September 2020

Autumn Fires

 Do you remember? Back in the Spring, just before the Covid Lockdown, the high winds brought down our ivy-covered arch into the back garden?

    Graham cleared away the debris into a HUGE pile at the back of the garden. This was substantially added to when he 'trimmed' the leylandii hedge (lopped six feet off it and reduced it to chest height).

    Well this now VAST pile of twigs and sticks and logs has sat in the garden all Summer.

    Occasionally Graham has taken the brown bin (garden waste) and filled it with clippings from the heap, making apparently no difference to the volume.

    Until the other day when he said to me: 'What do you think to getting a garden incinerator? Aldi's have some in at £15.00.'

    I said 'If you want to buy one, go ahead.' while thinking to myself that if he was thinking of feeding the Heap into it, that would take some doing.

    Graham was silent for a bit, and then said, 'Of course, I'd have to move the heap out of the way ....'

    Now one of his objections to having a bonfire was that the Heap was currently positioned over what had been our fire pit, so in order to have a controlled and safe bonfire, he would have to move the Heap, then feed it into the bonfire gradually.

    Also we know that wild life will have made homes in the Heap, so it would need dis-mantling and moving, to be sure that none of our garden inhabitants came a cropper.

    I said nothing. Then Graham said, 'Or I could just have a bonfire.'

    So yesterday afternoon the Heap was shifted. Larger pieces of wood were separated and the fire pit was exposed. As expected, several frogs/toads had made homes under the Heap and these had to be shooed away. One was a magnificent large frog with a prodigious leap. Anyway all was prepared ready for dusk.

    And at 7 pm Graham announced that he was going to start the bonfire, 'I'll come out with you.' I said.

    'Why?' asked Graham.

    'Just to be sure we have stuff put on gradually and not all in one big chunk.' I said.

    Actually it all went very well. Graham was careful as he had seen that at least one of the frogs/toads had moved into the Heap again, so he took stuff off the pile carefully, making sure he wasn't transferring any creatures into the fire.

    The Heap was lovely and dry/seasoned, so it burnt well, but even so it still took over an hour to gradually feed all of it into the bonfire. But it all burnt down well.

    After the last lot was on, we sat and watched it for a while, making sure it was burnt down to a glowing grumble before we left it.

    It is a long time since we last had a bonfire. To me they are always magical, as we always have tried to have a little fire to celebrate the festivals. This year we have kept largely to candles, so it was lovely to sit and watch the dancing and leaping flames.

    These are the fires that our ancestors had. That burnt up the waste at the end of the harvest.

    this was the time when fields would be alight with burning stubble, burning up the disease and fertilising the Earth with fresh ash. These were the fires we would see at night, up on the hill sides, visible for miles. As the bonfires and Need Fires would also be visible in those dark, dark nights or the far past, when the only light you could bring into darkness was fire.

The next day - this is all that was left.

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