Fire

I love bonfires.  When I was a child I loved fireworks too.  Now I can take them or leave them but a good fire is a wonderful thing.    We had a fire in the field the other night.  We had been piling wood up for a couple of weeks, prunings of shrubs, trimmings of the native hedges, brambles and bits of holly cut back from behind the shepherd's hut.    The woodpile was ready to light and the pallet was covered with perennial weed to burn when things got really hot.


It was a pitchblack night, cold and wet with gusts of rain blowing  out of the darkness, snatching at the fire and hurling flame and smoke back into the blackness.


Standing on the doorstep it was the kind of night to drive you back inside but we gathered our coats around us and set out across the black field.  Soon the centre of the fire was a mesmerising glow.


Gusts of wind made it roar into sheets of flame.  Our faces were hot although the rain blew cold on our backs.  Ian patrolled the fire with his pitchfork, pulling unburnt twigs into the burning centre, turfing clods of perennial weed into the furnace.  A fire is a primitive thing.  It draws you to it with its warmth and light but makes the surrounding darkness more intense and strange, inpenetrable blackness.  You look into the fire and see worlds turning in the flame but when you turn away you can see nothing.


Every now and then a larger piece of wood fell into the fire, fountaining sparks as it went.  Smoke gusted into our faces and made us circle and dance around the fire.  Eventually our shoulders and backs were so wet with rain that the cold began to seep in so we retired to the shepherd's hut where a fire had been burning in the stove, lit at the same time as the field bonfire.  The woodburner is so effective that the hut was warm as toast, warm enough to shed your socks and jerseys and welcome a cold glass of wine.


What about you?  Do you like or fear fire, or perhaps both?

Comments

  1. I love bonfires of all sizes, and am the regular holder of small garden bonfires, but fireworks make me sad. My father died on bonfire night, forty five years ago, and I can remember being dragged out to see a small display only an hour or so after being told. By relatives. I was a child! Sensitive, no?

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    1. Oh that is awful. What do people think? That a child does not feel?

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  2. That sounds shocking for the veg artist. For myself I love fires both outside and indoors. Fireworks I enjoy at a distance as in an organised display.

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    1. I am the same! A good organised firework display can be magic but a fire, organised or not, is great.

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  3. Lovely pictures of your fire. I'm a bonfire novice, having only lit one to burn some cuttings recently, when it seemed that my compost heap would become too mountainous. It was only moderately successful and involved a lot of effort. I was glad that I am not overlooked as I would certainly have been considered an inexperienced townie. But it was mesmerising.

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    1. I must admit that Ian is the fire king. He can keep it burning for ages. But they are mesmerising and you do get better at them. Would hate not to be able to do this now although for years we lived in places where a bonfire would have been impossible.

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  4. Elizabeth, your rainy night bonfire sounds quite wonderful. Yes, there is something primitive about our appreciation, yet also fear, of fire. Particularly in the dark.

    xo

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    1. I imagine that despite the many wonderful things on offer in New York you don't get many bonfires!

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  5. I love fires, one of my happiest childhood memories is of sitting by a roaring fire on a cold, dark winter's evening just gazing into the flames. Sadly we don't have an open fie or a log burner here, I only wish we had. Your bonfire photos are wonderful.

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    1. I have a lot of memories of fire from when I was a child - helping to lay one with my father showing me how much paper and how much wood, looking into them, and digging baked potatoes out of a bonfire and wrapping them in a teatowel to be able to hold them, filled with butter and sprinkled with salt.

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  6. Poor Veg Artist - but I'm a real bonfire fan, brings out something atavistic and I get an urge to roast potatoes and marshmallows and really annoy the neighbours by piling more and more on....

    I remember domestic bonfire nights, but in all honesty the best ones were when I was in London; we had a great council one on our local common. It wasn't too huge, but was big enough for the fireworks to be spectacular, plus close enough to the house to walk there and avoid the gridlock of London on 5 November. Ok, bit short on the marshmallows front....

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  7. Bonfires are wonderful things - I agree, but when we can't really justify having a big one, we sometimes take a pile of twiggy bits and burn them in the metal barbecue. We even did it one wet evening in Wales when we were camping - it certainly perked us all up no end. There's something primal about fire.

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    1. I like the idea of a bonfire barbecue just for the fire!

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  8. I like a bright bonfire on a crisp clear night when wrapped up well! Yours looks lovely, and your hut so cosy afterwards!

    I couldn't comment from my usual browser (Opera on a linux system) by the way, where your blog had no background/comments/pages or buttons. In firefox, I can see what should have appeared there, but it's not the browser I tend to use to catch up on blogs :(.

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    1. Sorry about the browser problem! I am contemplating moving back to the old format as one or two people have had a problem. Thanks for letting me know.

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  9. I am most certainly a lover of bonfires, and shepherds huts ... that one should follow the other sounds like absolute bliss to me.

    We have a bonfire this year and I really missed it.

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  10. Oops, that should say we *didn't* have a bonfire!

    Obviously that was a mistype but I'm also having a lot of problems commenting here since you changed the format Elizabeth. I'm using Chrome.

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    1. Another person with commenting problems, sorry!

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  11. I love bonfires, although we call them brush fires. I like standing watching the flames, encouraging the branches to burn, and adding more when the fire burns down.

    I also enjoyed your previous post, from Berlin to the shepherd's hut. The blanket has a beautiful start!

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    1. Thank you! I have nearly finished the blanket and am loving it.

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  12. I love bonfires. I love the fire and the smell! It's hard for me to have one here as my garden is very narrow and I worry about the fences, but I find enough friends with one to satisfy my yearnings!

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    1. This is the first time we have had a garden big enough to have a bonfire in and it's great!

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  13. 'warm enough to shed your socks' - I liked that phrase.

    VP tells me she's seen your hut - deep envy!

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    1. Well if you are coming to Machynlleth (see VP below) you could take a bit of a detour going home and come and see it! Would be good to meet you in the flesh.

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  14. I love fires and you are right there is something very primeval about them. When we went to see the jubilee beacon lit on the top of the Malvern hills I found ti quite emotional.

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    1. Our jubilee beacon up here was not a bonfire but a gas flame - not the same at all!

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  15. Love it! Wish I had room for a fire, even a little one. A big one would be great.

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    1. It's the first time we have had enough room ourselves - it is great!

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  16. Yes, those are pretty much my feelings, too. I always preferred the bonfire to the fireworks. What a magnificent bonfire we had on the hill here for the Jubilee. That will keep my bonfire-lust going for quite some time.

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    1. Ah you had a real one then like patient gardener! Lucky you!

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  17. Today I love bonfires plus cosy log fires and woodburning stoves. Yours look lovely and toasty.

    When I was little I was so terrified our house would burn down whilst I was asleep, I would try to keep awake for as long as possible. I had horrible nightmares when I did eventually fall asleep. At first, I couldn't even light a bunsen burner when I started senior school!

    BTW Mark is coming over to Machynllech on 6th December to read from his book. There will be tea and cake apparently. I've just read it - it's beautiful.

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    1. Thanks for letting me know about the 6th! I will see if I can manage to get there!

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  18. As a Sagittarian, fire is my sign... I love it! But, as with all the elements, only in its rightful place. Too much fire, water, air, or earth and we perish. But used in a respectful, creative, or useful way, fire is a wonderful thing! Bonfires should always be danced around. If you don't do it voluntarily, you notice how nature goads you into doing it anyway. 8-)

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    1. You are so right about the way nature makes you dance around a bonfire whether you like it or not!

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  19. I envy you having space for a fire outdoors, there is something wonderfully primitive, primal, about fire outside. I have been wondering about fires on the beach, if we clear up after ourselves. We lit our first indoor fire this week, a power cut having turned the central heating off. Just as well I had the chimney sweep round that day! I love it, sitting staring at the flames, poking, dreaming.

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