Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Controlled Burn

Once upon a time, on the very first Monday of the new time change, Chesapeake Bay Woman struggled to get up at 5:30, drove bleary-eyed the hour to work, survived a rather hectic day, drove the hour home, and did what everyone else in America would do at the conclusion of such a long, arduous day.

No pine trees were killed in this incident, although the flames licked their lower limbs.

She watched her father drive over on his Cub Cadet and intentionally set fire to a brush pile and then to the entire shoreline in her back yard.

Because that's what we do around here for entertainment .

The fire spread quickly through the dry, crispy marsh grass and brush along the shore.

Fire Marshal Twinkie the cat was entirely unimpressed.  Here he glances away from the fire as he considers taking up residence where the humans act more civilized, such as the Saluda jail.

Here is my 71-year-old father, the King of Shoreline Pyrotechnics.There's lots of mud down there and no shortage of tripping hazards. Oh, and fast-moving fire. Let's not forget that.

My father is easily winded these days due to lung issues that have official names.

Also, everyone in my family has a well-documented history of falling for no good reason.

Needless to say, between the fire itself and my (potentially) winded father so close to it all, the tension (much like the temperature) was rising--in direct correlation to my already frazzled blood pressure.

Several times he ventured out of my line of sight and I thought for sure he'd fallen; in that fast-moving fire there was no room for error.

(Have I mentioned our well-documented family history of falling even when we're not walking in creek mud, marsh grass, brambles, and uneven terrain? With a fire lapping at our heels?)

Dearest Hallieford Neighbors,  I'm sorry.  First you get a daily dousing of smoke from his wood-burning furnace.  Now this.  

Warning: The tractor above moves much slower than it appears--in the exact opposite direction of the raging inferno when said inferno was spreading higher into the pine tree zone. He was as cool as a cucumber, not a worry in the world.

I, on the other hand, was as cool as a habanero pepper slathered liberally with wasabi sauce. This was where I officially started to panic. If the pine trees caught on fire that would definitely not be part of the controlled burn plan, if such a plan existed.  Ordinarily there would be pictures of the flames reaching farther up the pine trees, but by that time I had tossed the camera aside in search of the fire department a rake to attempt to control the uncontrolled, controlled fire.
It was futile.
So I had a glass of wine instead.

The burning away of some of the marsh grass revealed a site where glass was once dumped. That's what they did back in the day before they lit their shorelines on fire for entertainment.  They slammed their excess glassware into the ground.  Not really. But they did dump the glass in certain designated spots such as this.

I can't wait to investigate this area. But at the time this was taken the ground was chock full of embers. And my eyebrows were already singed as it was. No need to pile on.

When the fire started to wane around the pine trees, I could finally relax.  

But wait.  Not yet.

Then my father returned to set fire to the section of shoreline closest to the dock, which also appeared to be perfectly combustible.

He's down in the mud again. See how high that fire is reaching?

Hello?It's over his head. And he's ankle deep in creek mud!
More wine please.

All in all, it was a successful controlled burn even if it appeared absolutely uncontrolled for a good portion of the event.  

We do this every so often around here, and lest you think we're unusual, I can assure you we're not the only ones.  

Fire does encourage growth of good things.  The marsh grass and cattails come back in full force.  Wild asparagus too, much to my mother's glee.  

Even if the above is not true, we tell ourselves this each and every year to enjoy the privilege of a good pyrotechnics display fire.

Fire Marshal Twinkie, on his way to find another home. As he left he was overheard mumbling, "The humans here are animals. Absolute savages."

If any of you out there can contribute to the reasons why one should burn a shoreline, please leave a comment.  And a glass of wine.

Click here for last year's rendition of the same activity.

Last but not least, I'm so very grateful to have a father next door who takes care of the things I would could never do myself.  He does everything very well in spite of all my worrying and fretting, and I love him very much. (Love you too, CB Mother! Can't wait to eat the asparagus.)


p.s. Pardon the shift from third to first person about halfway through this post.  It's a coping mechanism brought on by stress due to a father, a house, and a dock  standing way too close to fast-moving flames.


deborah said...

Wow! What an exciting evening you had! I'm sure your dad was loving every minute of the 'controlled' burn while you were quietly freaking out.
Controlled burns are good, can't rightly recall all of the reasons, but they are a good thing.
Your fire marshall is adorable, hope he came back in time for dinner:)

Anonymous said...

Ah, CBW--I wish I could send you a case of good wine, and some fire-resistant pants for your father. He seems to be engulfed in what I call "Hazardous Obliviongous"--scaring the pantaloons off all the loved ones, while blissfully ignoring the danger looming closely. I know all about it from my 83 yr. old mother in law, she's still clambering up ladders, moving heavy furniture after surgery, walking to church in the dark where a man had recently got mugged,despite 3 offers of a ride to church,etc.
I love the expressions on your cat's funny that he just HAD to investigate the goings-on.

Jamie said...

Nothing better than a fire. And it's good to burn off the dead vegetation now and then, makes room for new growth and gets rid of any debris washed up on the marsh that could make an uncontrolled fire harder to fight (you know, stuff that fuels a fire so high it nearly torches the pines close by). I love rooting around for old glass bottles.

Daryl said...

that was so exciting I may need a glass of wine now and its 8 a.m. Twinkie needs a fire marshall hat and I love love love asparagoose

Windsmurf said...

In Maine, where I grew up, they burn the wild blueberry fields every couple of years. It keeps out unwanted plants, helps keep the soil at the right acidity, and gets rid of unproductive old growth. Maine wild blueberries are a low bush variety (varieties) and frequently grow on Fields that have large Glacial rocks strewn across them so other means of care would be difficult. We used to strap on tanks of water to our backs and attempt to direct or discourage the direction of the burn. Usually successfully.

growing wild on waverly lane said...

CB Father had a father who, caught the whole barn area ablaze and was hesitant (ashamed) to call the fire department but someone did. He let me go at it with a rake and a wet towel (which worked pretty well) and retreated to the house in denial. Since the fire was near our house trailer, I had a vested interest in it all and was not in denial. His wife looked out the window and kept cooking.

I'd say CBFather is just under genetic influence. The other day he asked me not to drive on the lawn. This from a person who used to park under the kitchen window.

I'd call this whole thing an attack of "Gus"itis.

annbumbly said...

Wine makes everything better. Just sayin'. :)

Meg McCormick said...

Ack, really? ON PURPOSE? After the fire raged through our property last February, that is the LAST thing I'd think to do. Of course you are next to the water and all... but you are right - the grass regrew out in the right-of-way greener than ever. Can't say the same for our damaged trees, though. Pine trees are super-combustible - can't beleive yours didn't burn!

Dghawk said...

Wonderful story. I'm glad everything and EVERYONE is fine. Of course, with Twinkie the Fire Marshall on duty, what could go wrong?....On second thought, don't answer that.

Anyway, as others have said, it is good to burn sometimes. Back home, all my neighbors who had gardens, always burned them before tilling the soil. It gets rid of the bad stuff (weeds and bugs), and leaves the soil a lot less acidic. Even forest fires are a sometimes good thing. They get rid of all the dead and diseased material on the ground so the forest can regenerate itself. In fact I have even heard that there are some plants that need that burn in order to sprout. The intense heat of the fire activates the something in the seed telling it to sprout.

Country Girl said...

Sometimes, fire does good things. Controlled burns are necessary.

As is wine, I believe.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

LOVE these comments, all of them.

Thank you!

Lora said...

this made me laugh at work- which is exactly what I needed!

We used to burn poison ivy out of places. And my grandparents would burn the garden down to get rid of nasty bugs and weeds and make the dirt better. It is all very stressful.

Anonymous said...

You know it takes skill to trip over a flat surface so you are skilled...not clumsy! ;)

foolery said...

Controlled burns are vital in some places! However, I, like you, am in favor of putting the "control" in "control burns." I came home one day to find that my father had lighted my two burn piles - one on the edge of my driveway and the road, and the other at the far end of the house against the ditch. Camille was home alone. She came out of the house to see what was going on - and her grandfather rode away on his 4-wheeler, leaving both burning piles unattended and Camille in a panic. All was fine in the end but I was livid. THERE IS NOT ENOUGH WINE.

Love to you guys and raising a glass to dear departed Twinkie. 4/29/19