March 11, 2009

Toes in the mud

Last weekend down at the farm I got to help with my first controlled burn, and I must say I'm pretty good at setting fires. I thought it rather novel experience to be standing by the side of the road starting fires while being watched by a passel of neighborhood dogs in varying stages of curiosity. One of them, a cute little gray and brown brindled pup, kept following us around. I had been calling him to get away from the fires, and he just tagged along when Allen and I headed into the field towards his dad and brothers where they were burning a back line. It was like something out of Mordor seeing the blackened smokey ground with it's little wisps of flame flickering as they slowly licked their way up towards the hill. Of course once we got there the men folk started teasing me about being out there in "flip-flops." (actually tevas) I didn't mind though. Allen and I stayed out there for several more hours with pine branches in our hands to beat out the back line of the fire as we burned our way towards the creek. Once we got towards the creek though it became pretty obvious that we weren't going to get much more burning done until things dried out a bit more. There was a couple of places where I sank up to my ankles in mud and ash, but there the vegetation had been thick enough to keep the fire moving. Closer to the creek it became too sparse and damp in patches to even keep it going. Tired and muddy though I was there have been fewer more peaceful times than I had sitting by the creek talking to one of my brothers (in-law), resting my eyes on the green pasture across, and watching the remaining flames flicker even more brightly as dusk rose up around us. Afterwards the four of us traipsed back through the mud, across the silent, black fields punctuated by great gnarled trees and standing groves -back to our cars and back to Mamaw's bright kitchen.

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