By Joe Rector

I’ve talked about the trees that I had cut and the work I’ve done. The job ended last week when a friend came to cut the remaining tree. I made a deal with him to leave the limbs for me to take care of in order to save some money. Dragging, cutting, and burning those limbs and some larger pieces became and all-day project, but one I enjoyed.

I began that fire at 9:00 a.m. after checking with the county to make sure burning was permissible that day. Having a burn permit is important to me, in case I set a nearby field on fire. Mother did that one year. She set her small fire, but the wind picked up and quickly blew cinders and flames onto the dried Bermuda grass. That short little woman worked feverishly to put out the flames, but they raced across the yard, jumped the fence, and singed the neighbor’s field before the fire department arrived with enough water to douse the fire. That might have been the first time my mother realized that she couldn’t do what she used to do.

I began by dragging some bark and branches from other downed trees. For this blaze, I needed only a splash of diesel fuel on the pile, and the old stuff on bottom immediately caught fire. Lying on the fence line were piles of roots I’d cut, as well as fallen limbs from other trees. Burning brush is somewhat akin to spring house cleaning. It’s always a good time to gather up unused things and get rid of them. The pile grew.

Some time around noon, Amy came out with the dog. We have to walk her on a leash because she’s been known to take pursuit of a rabbit and be gone for a while. She told me she had errands that needed to be run, and I told her to leave Sadie with me. I gathered up two cables with hooks and attached one around a tree trunk and the other to the dog’s harness. Sadie sniffed at a few things but then lowered her haunches and sat as still as she’s ever been.

I retrieved my blower from the building and aimed it at the dwindling fire. Cinders turned bright orange before bursting into flames, and the fire grew so hot that it singed the hair on my arms and on my head, thereby increasing the area of baldness on my head. Before long, the wind began blowing just enough to allow me to set the blower aside.

I walked to the edge of the property to fetch an old metal school chair that I use for fires. I plopped down on the plastic seat to rest my weary legs and behind. It was located close enough to the fire that I could quickly rake up unburned sticks and chunks of wood.

For a couple of hours, I sat and watched the fire. As soon as my backside hit the chair, Sadie ambled over and lay at the side of the chair in the prefect position for petting. Fires mesmerize me, and I think they make my dog sleepy. For as long as I was there tending the flames, my mind held no thought of any importance. Some say that happens all the time. I just sat there in the moment and was surrounded by the things of nature.

Amy likes sitting by a fire, but I too easily grow antsy and look for something to do. It’s only when I have a big fire that needs tending that I stop and sit. The other day I worked and sat at that fire until 7:00 p.m. It had been a good day for a man, a dog, and a fire.