Last week, we had mud, mud, mud, and more mud. This week the mud is drying; the snow has almost disappeared, except in the shade; and the new spring growth is beginning to appear. Last year’s dry grass, brown weeds, and dead forage look messy and unsightly. What do we do? We have fun cleaning and beautifying the land with fire!
It’s the time of year when neighbors and farmers burn ditch banks and old weeds. Our children look forward to the spring burning. Fire and children have a natural attraction. It’s exciting to see things go up in flame.
We burn dry hillsides and ditches to allow room for new growth. When the spring showers come, the burned fields transform into a lush and green countryside. The fire also helps clean the sides of the canal and provides a clear path for running water.
We’ve been waiting for the perfect burn conditions: no snow, dry grass, no wind, and very little spring growth. Thursday was the perfect day. We changed into our work clothes, grabbed rakes, and took off to enjoy an afternoon full of excitement and fun.
First, we carefully and slowly burned a few “fire stop barriers” around the perimeter to assure fire control. Neighbors may not want their land accidentally and quickly cleansed by fire. Especially by surprise! Once the preparation and safety measures were complete, we were ready to light “the big one” to cleanup the hillside.
The children thoroughly enjoy raking, spreading fire, and being free. They have experienced heat generated from fire and know to keep a careful eye on where the fire is headed. Everything can go up in flames very quickly, and they don’t want to get too close to the heat or get trapped.
Mother Earth delivers natural consequences, and she can’t be manipulated. Fire really is hot, distance is wise, and a breeze can enhance the fire and direct its path. The children also have learned that using a rake does more than maneuver fire. A rake with a metal handle can get extremely hot when exposed to fire. Although there might have been some close calls over the last decade, when all is said and done, the closest we’ve come to a casualty is some singed hair on Dad’s arms and face.
We work together, play together, and have fun together. We also struggle together, argue together, and misunderstand each other sometimes. If you get into the “burning zone” of another, you’ll hear about it. When someone leaves a prized rake unattended, another may grab and claim it. This usually starts a squabble and dispute. Of course, there seems to always be “the favorite rake”, or “the best burning spot”, and everybody wants it. There really is enough and to spare, you know, but sometimes it just seems otherwise.
Well, after a few hours of hot, burning, and thrilling fun, we sat back and admired our work. The garbage, clutter, and mess along with the dead grass and weeds went up in smoke. Fire has a cleansing, purifying, and refining effect. It looks all black right now, but in a short while it will be green with shoots of new growth and life. Fire does wonders for both the land and the soul.