Brother Nick and I got a few days of serious brush cutting done before clouds moved in, and I woke up in the middle of the night to the drumming of a light rain on the cabin’s roof and went back to sleep with a smile.
It’s been pretty dry so far this past fall and now winter, and the news has been dominated by the stories of the fires in Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino counties and more recently (and still burning as of this writing) the fires in southern California.
So there is a real motivation to make the area around here as ready as possible for fire season next year, and myself and my neighbors are busy as bees cutting dead trees and clearing brush. And we’ve all been waiting for the first rains so we can begin burning everything which has been cut.
This particular rain was just wet enough that we ventured on our first burn of 2018, a couple of piles which had accumulated over the last year.
Burning brush isn’t just sitting around a fire staring dreamily into the flames. It’s hauling stuff over, often from some distance, often uphill, and heaving it in, and then trudging back for more. It’s exhausting.
But I still love it, because our property is so incredibly beautiful, and it is a pleasure to be hanging out in an awesome space, recently cleared, with an awesome view on an awesome day.
Best is when the fire is down to a large pile of embers and coals, the brush all thrown in and consumed. The angry red and black pile still needs to be watched, but that is the time to sit (finally!) and rest and stare dreamily into the glow.
Yesterday, I was minding a pile at the bottom of the hill after several hours of throwing logs and branches and brush in, now reduced to a large smoldering pile of embers, but steadily cooking down to ash.
After sitting for a while, I got up and started wandering around, appreciating the little meadow and grove of pines and oaks. I looked up, and stared into the interested face of a young buck, a three pointer, about 40 feet away from me. We gazed at each other for a couple minutes, then he resumed chewing his mouth full of whatever, turned his back on me, and went sauntering into the trees.
I looked from his retreating form back to the place where I’d left my camera and sighed.