There's something really mystical, mysterious, mystifying about being outside at night. Early this evening, taking advantage of the extra hour of daylight, I decided to burn my brush pile. It's in the fire pit way back behind the garage, the one that I dug myself and circled with stones. The pile of brush was really, really huge, especially after Friday, when I cut brush and picked up fallen branches from the little clearing in the woods behind my house. It was overflowing before that, and something like gigantic afterward. I don't know what I'll do when I move to a town with real restrictions about burning. The fire department tells me that my brush-burning is considered a "backyard campfire," and perfectly legal anytime (though I don't do it when there are drought conditions).
A little kerosene starts it. Kerosene burns very hot and is not volatile like gasoline. It's probably comparable in fire-starting to charcoal lighter fluid, but it burns hotter. It's always a little scary right at first, when I let the pile get as high as I did. Every time I do this, I promise that next time, I won't let it get so high. But sometimes it's too cold to stand outside and watch it, and then it rains, etc. etc. etc. Anyway, when that first flame burns so high, and the slightest breeze carries it toward the woods or the pine trees on the east -- I am very alert, I tell you, watching very carefully, and can have my hose out there within five minutes, if the need arises. But it never does. After that first burn-off, it settles down to a medium-size, but still very hot fire that can, with a little tending, get rid of a huge pile of brush in a half-hour or so. Of course, to really burn down every bit of it, it takes a little longer, a little more tending, a little more gazing.
How I love a campfire. It brings back memories of camping with my family (my mother always told me that I camped from the time I was 16 days old), and more recent memories of campfires with friends, complete with homemade clam chowder, heated over driftwood coals, or staying in a friend's fishing cabin and laughing late into the night around the fire. And there's nothing as compelling as gazing into a flame, and then the coals that remain; I find it hypnotic. Tonight the moon was very nearly full (Wednesday is the "official" full-moon night, but it looked pretty full to me), and she played hide-and-seek in the clouds that skipped along in the lovely breeze that kept my fire burning. It was magical to glimpse moon and a swatch of stars, then bright moon behind the edge of a cloud, then moon again. It was a celebration, in and of itself. Oh, and I forgot to mention that it was in the high 60s, and I didn't even need a jacket. That's a treat, too. Welcome, Spring!
And yesterday I bought 6 bags of compost and manure, a bale of yellow straw for the strawberry bed, and planted 3 short rows of spinach (after much robust weeding, including dandelions with those deep roots). I'm planting the lettuce and spinach in the long bed furthest west in my garden; last year I had green beans there, and the deer ate them all. I don't think they can reach far enough over the fence to get the spinach and lettuce; I'll plant the beans on an interior bed. Yay! Gardening season is here!