Sunday, December 30, 2012

Burn Day

Yesterday I put Christmas away. It was time.  All that's left is a vase of arching pine branches on the window ledge, a wreath at the front door and another down at the head of the drive.  This year, the spirit of Christmas had to be cajoled to come at all and it took off again almost immediately.  I was in a funk about my general lack of seasonal joy -- this is what comes of listening too much to the ever gloomier and upsetting reports on the national news.  It just doesn't leave much room for optimism.   In particular, the rabid and destructive animosity between our political parties and their lack of any regard for those who elected them is both bewildering and depressing.  In order to maintain some sense of equilibrium, I'm choosing not to allow their bad behavior to completely overwhelm my perception of reality.  To that end, I'm making a conscious effort to limit how often I check in on the fate of our country.  I figure that whatever cliffs we manage to go over, I'll find out about it soon enough anyway.  Stoopid politicians...

There -- that's out of my system.  And so...

Today was a glorious winter day at Frogpond:  sunshine in a bright blue sky and temperatures in the mid 40's -- a perfect day to burn the tall brush pile that's been accumulating since last summer.  Burning brush is illegal in most of California during the hot months when the hills are bone-dry and the breezes hot and capricious.  Burning brush in the winter and spring is the only sane (not to mention legal) method of burning in this climate, but there are certain inherent problems that emerge when trying to ignite a very wet and rain-soaked brush pile. 

In short, they don't want to catch fire, and when they do, they quickly go all smokey and then sizzle out.  This is what our pile was doing when I joined Bruce this morning on the upper pad.  He'd tried to get it going with just a bit of diesel fuel and a match.  The small, dry stuff quickly caught fire but the flames died out before the larger branches could join in.  Ever helpful, I dug in my coat pocket and found several very old Kleenexes which added to the embers.  They flared up and were reduced to ash in about 6 seconds.  Not successful, but this gave me an idea...

I ran back to the house and brought back lots of newspaper and two Firestart logs to get things going. 

This got things started, but it still wasn't enough: there was just a point when the larger logs emerged from the smoke unscathed after the smaller twigs and sticks had burned away.

So Bruce rode the Kubota back down to the house and returned with a really BIG jug of diesel and a plastic bucket.  A good dousing of this finally got the whole pile down to business and we finally had actual flames flickering through the branches.  Victory was sweet.

Bruce and I now were both covered with a fine dusting of ash, had soot on our coats and hands and both reeked of smoke.  But there was fire.

We stayed up there on the hill for another hour to make sure that the fire behaved itself and remained in bounds. 

While we waited, a couple of redtail hawks put on a show, wheeling and circling overhead.  No pictures of them, I'm sorry to say -- anyway, my little camera would have snapped images of black smudges in a blue sky.  Bruce (who is  occasionally very wise) said that sometimes it's better to just enjoy something in the moment and not worry about things like pictures.  I agree.
Murphy, looking at the hills of Gopher Ridge holding back the valley fog

And then we called to the three dogs and slowly our little group wended our way down the hill, along the dam, past the chicken coop and so back to the house.

An enjoyable day -- very much needed and appreciated.

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