Catherine and I had our last day of brush burning for the season yesterday afternoon. As per our ritual, we sat around the dying fire, drinking beer and reminiscing about burn days in the past. Burn season is very much a part of the rhythm of our lives.
We own an acre and a half homestead populated by mature Norway maples, ash, locust and sycamore. They all drop branches during the worst weather. Some even fall over entirely. In addition, we have to keep after some invasive species like wild blackberry, sumac, poison ivy and a host of other hideous plants too ugly and plentiful to mention. Why do we still do this even though we are in our seventies? Hell, I don’t know for certain. I guess that we just love our little plot and have too much of ourselves invested in the land to even consider moving.
We first became acquainted with burn season thirty four years ago by our neighbor, Chet Fowler; a kindly old gent who smoked Chesterfields, still lived in the house he was born in and who possessed a fountain of wisdom and stories about the place we now called home. One of the most charming traits that Chet had was his pension for mischief and bending the rules. He and Catherine became fast friends as he taught her the fine points of burning brush, dead leaves and weeds. We think of him fondly every burn season.
We have also been visited over the years by other treasured friends and family during burn days, huddled around the fire in late afternoon , quenching our thirst, resting our tired bodies and talking. There is something communal about fires. Among those we think of are my late brother Mike. He loved fires, drinking beer and telling funny stories. One of my favorite memories of Mike was during one particular burn day. He and I were sitting around the fire enjoying a beer while Catherine was guiding a ground fire through the trees, rake in one hand and hose in the other; calmly going about her business. Mike said, “I need to find a woman like that”.
Another frequent visitor on burn day was our dear friend, Bill Pasquina. If he was driving past our house and we were out burning, he would stop by to keep us company. Bill was a great story teller and conversationalist. He passed away recently, but is memory will life on, especially during burn season.
Finally, I would like to salute my wife and burn day companion of thirty four years. We have worked together all these years to make a home and property we could feel proud of. The work continues, the love remains.
All the best,