Man and fire

fire

THERE’S AN ART to building a good fire.

And I have no idea what that is, so my approach is to bludgeon the matter. I pile a mountain of firewood, and I torch a handful of ocote, which is a resin-full wood that ignites gleefully when introduced to flame.

Stick the burning ocote under the stacked wood and wait. That’s all there is to it. Perhaps I do grasp the art.

I lit a fire downstairs yesterday, the first of the season. Before that, I climbed the circular stairway on the upstairs terraza to the roof and removed plastic sheeting from the chimney top. Most of the year it’s wrapped in plastic to keep mosquitoes out. It took me about three years to learn that.

On about two occasions, I forgot to uncover the chimney first, and you can imagine what happened.

I paused while on the roof and took a look around at the green mountains. I inhaled the clear winter air, and I thanked the Goddess, hardly for the first time, for landing me here in my declining years. It’s good to end one’s many days in such a spectacular fashion.

There were two blazes yesterday. The first was in the morning because it was dang cold. The second was late afternoon. It was less cold, but I desired a cozy atmosphere. After I got the fire burning, I sat on the nearby scarlet sofa and read a good book about Stanley and Dr. Livingstone.

And felt good about myself. A fine fire will do that.

First fire, last rose

fireWE STAND ASTRIDE the cusp of two seasons. Fall and winter. And today they held hands.

The rose bushes out by the stone wall, in an heroic final effort, birthed a bloom. I’m sure it will be the last we’ll see till next Spring. I cut it, and it now sits in a rosebud vase on the dining room table, looking lovely.

After settling the rose into its spot, I returned to the yard, picked up a large rake and started to toil. Beneath the loquat tree was a sea of dead and dry leaves.  I made a mountain.

Nearby was another ocean of dead leaves. They had descended from a pear tree. They too were brown, but they were damp. I collected them into a separate pile not too distant from the loquats.

I was hesitant to burn them together due to the quantity. Once last year a blaze got away from me, causing quite a bit of dashing about and bellowing. I’m too old for that. But the grass was brown then. Now it’s still green. No matter. Two fires are preferred. Last year someone laughed at my predicament.

Dignity must be maintained.

I got a bit of ocote in hand, plus a lighter. Ocote is starter wood that burns readily. I had a piece the size of my thumb. I lit it and slowly sank it into the loquat leaves. It began to spread. I stood back.

roseThe pile in the photo above are the loquats.

When that hill had almost burned out, I raked the pear leaves atop the smoldering loquats. As mentioned, the pears were damp. Dry leaves burn nicely. Wet leaves do not burn at all. Damp leaves can burn, but they smoke. Man, do they ever smoke.

I would have been executed in California. I sent massive smoke plumes throughout the neighborhood.

But I was burning leaves, for Pete’s sake. It was neither nuclear waste nor even plastic bottles. It was a natural, if bountiful, smoke arising from some of the Goddess’ own children. I felt no guilt.

So the lawn looks better now, and there’s a rose in the dining room, the second loveliest thing in the Hacienda.

I am married to Number One, of course.