The Vale of Death

It’s wood stove and fireplace season, and the neighbors down the hill across the road are keeping warm with cheerful blazes. In the morning before the sun comes over the hill, the air gets still and the wood smoke just creeps around like a heavy fog ¬†close to the ground in a meadow at the bottom of our road.

I was out walking early a few days ago down there and the smoke was accumulating and loitering, a deadly toxic miasma. I now call that meadow the Vale of Death because any creature hanging out down there in the morning, before the first breeze of sunrise clears the smoke from the air, will surely asphyxiate.

smoke2

Crisp November

We got some pretty good rain in the last week of October, and now it’s November and it is getting cooler and crisper every day as we fall into winter.

firebreathingI did the first brush burn of the season a few days ago in between storms. I like to burn brush when it’s actually raining so the rain helps to scrub the smoke from the air, the rain also helps keep nearby trees from being scorched by the fire.

When I do a burn, I start a little fire, then build a pyramid of brush on top of it to build the fire up and then just heave brush into the fire until it’s all gone and then move on to the next burn pile. In the early¬†pyramid stage of the burn, as the fire is gaining size and volume, the burn pile starts to respirate, drawing in air and then expelling fire with an audible huff! huff! huff! sound, like your grandpa climbing a flight of stairs.

The little squad of deer have been keeping me company up here on the hill, and I’ve been able to observe them and their ways. They definitely like acorns, they eat the fallen ones off the ground, and right off the lowest branches of the oaks, if they can reach them. They look like they are made of pure muscle, and their stick legs look ridiculously fragile and yet this morning off in the distance I saw one vault over the barb wire fence to the ranch next door.

deer