Monday, December 3, 2012

My Annual Burning Ritual

It's not exactly Burning Man, but every year about this time, I set the pile of brush, branches and tree trunks ablaze in my St. Albans, Vermont yard. I did this year's burn on Saturday.
Momemts after starting the brush
pile burn, the fire roars

It's the stuff that I've cut away from my property over the year. As any Vermonter knows, the woods always tries to encroach on our properties, taking back what we've taken away when we built our houses.

And since it's been such a dry year, the wood itself was dry. One match, a few sheets of newspaper, and away it roared. In seconds.

Which is why I chose Saturday. The inch or two of snow on the ground meant it was unlikely the fire would spread beyond where I wanted it.

I had a LOT to burn. I had a larger, separate pile of wood from which I dragged branches ans sticks to drag into the fire once the original blaze I started calmed down.  We had cut a lot of dead trees over the past year.

Because of that, I'd planned sort of interim brush pile burn between last December's burn and this year.

I was going to do the interim burn in March to get rid of some of the brush I'd accumulated. I  figured it would be snowy and wet and mushy that time of year, with no way a fire could spread. Instead, we had a drought, wind, record 80 degree heat, and a burn ban. So I skipped the March burn, because I didn't my fire to spread and burn down half of St. Albans.

Which left me with a forest full of dead wood to burn. I swear the pile of brush took up maybe 5 percent of my one acre lot. Some of the brush had to go.

I guess I'm a bit of a pyromaniac,  so I love to do the burn. I suspect a lot of other people like fires too.  Its primordial. Fire is the basics of heat and light. Flames are mesmerizing. Fires are a source of comfort, when we want to stay warm. Fires are a source of terror, when they threaten to burn down our homes, or kill us.
A closeup of my raging backyard burn

As I was pitching more wood into the fire, it crossed my mind that it would be really awful if I tripped and fell in. But I also thought about how efficient this was, taking a huge tangle of wood, and converting it into a tiny pile of ashes.

I know a lot of people believe a brush pile burn is wasteful, and polluting. I suppose it is.  I'm not sure how best to get rid of the branches in a more green fashion. I supposed I could rent a wood chipper, but that pollutes too.  There was nothing usable in the pile for people who burn wood for heat. (I'd already given away the wood that was usable for wood heat)

So there was mixed emotions all around.

In the end after I exhausted my burning desire to burn stuff by Saturday evening,  I still had a lot of unburned wood to go. And plenty of brush to cut yet around the yard. So, I will try another burn later this winter.

For you pyromaniacs out there,  a included some photos of the burn and a quick video of the burn.

Once the fire calmed down a bit, Jackson inspects
my handywork with the brushpile

A closeup of the burning wood
Another closeup of embers from my brushpile burn

No comments:

Post a Comment