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The Burn
Confessions of a Late Life Pyromaniac: Cascadia, 2/8/22
I was hauling soggy fallen branches from cedars, and a mass of trimmed lilac and snowball tree limbs that The Captain’s Wife and I had trimmed, when he arrived home early from work.
“Bro,” he said, getting out of his car, Good work—my OCD is kicking in.”
He smiled, at the big brush pile I was building and said, “We’re only allowed to burn four by four in King County. I’ll get the chain saw and cut this stuff down and let’s feed this smaller pile. It’s going to rain tonight.”
I started building the little brush tepee with the shorter branches and he cut up the big tree limbs, “Build it more this way, away from the tree line, we-ll feed it from upwind. This doctor I went to today for a physical started talking all of this vaxx nonsense, telling me I had to get vaxxed, to follow the science and that he thought the how thing was a soft sell, that he would have used the military to get everybody vaxxed. He was some German homo, a real faggot. I just walked out of there—that moron. Burning something would be good therapy!”
He returned with a torch that was attached to a propane tank and said, “Back up, Nige—I don’t suppose you got to do this much in Baltimore. This will melt that polyester jacket into your back. Be careful.”
The flames roared from the torch and began to build an inferno among the wet branches, the cedar palms crackling on contact, flames and smoke rising.
“Feed her bro. Be careful. I don’t want the Captain of the Nigerian Cribbage Team sidelined for burns!”
While I was feeding the building fire, trying to get branch rounds into the base, The Captain’s Wife came out from the kitchen and began to help, gathering more fallen branches and twigs and raking leaves as we fed the flames.
The captain returns with a leaf blower and looks at the inferno and declares, “This is already in excess of the ordinance. We should probably hold off and burn the rest of this tomorrow.”
He sets down the leaf blower and then bends over a hundred pounds of brush that would have filled two wheel barrows and picks it up, heaving it onto the burning brush and with a “woosh” and a crackle the fire built. “Wew, Baby!” he howled and began looking for more green stuff that would crackle and declared, “Load her up, Nige! King County can eat a Dick!”
As I more gingerly piled wood and brush The Captain applied more flames until a real furnace kind of burn intensified. Then he declared, “Lookout—burning fossil fuels!”
With that he pointed the leaf blower at the base of the fire and let her rip and the flames built, and built and roared and built some more and soared ten feet high, a deep orange and white inside.
He then handed me the leaf blower and said, “Take over Nige, I know its not a stone age tool like you prefer, but I want to melt metal!”
The fire became like a living, angry thing, a demon of applied technology as it roared and soared and the captain took photos with his smart phone to send to other part-time pyromaniac from the job site, “Down in the Colon” of Seattle. “Bro,” he said, as he took the leaf blower fro my now maniacal hand, “that’s good, more fuel!” How I would love to do this to those homeless tweaker animals camped around the job-site, maybe throw on a homo German doctor to roast in honor of his ʍRΝА gene manipulation bullshit!”
Within 45-minutes, the three of us had taken two full dump trucks worth of brush and wood and turned it into a roaring four by four foot fire, licking ten feet high.
He noted how I was getting too close and showed me how to use the rake to feed the un-burnt brush ends back into the center. The Mrs. came back out a few times after dark to rake the pile closer. By bed time it was a red-streaked smoldering white ash pile.
In the morning, some of the embers were still burning and I loaded them into one wheel barrow and spread them on some damp mud, having reduced a quarter acre of brush to 50 pounds of ash.
The ferocity and work rate of the fire was amazing. I recalled then that almost the entire forest of Pennsylvania and 2000 years earlier, the cedar forests of antiquity where Humbaba once dwelt in menace, were wiped out, not for building materials, but to feed furnaces for smelting ore, forging metal, baking bricks and cracking stone.
Throwing a postmodern witch-doctor upon the fire would have made it more meaningful. But we can only do what we do.
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