Fire in the Wind

Hello everyone,

I read an interesting tidbit the other day from one of these life-coach-advisor types: If you have goals in life you really want to accomplish, or if you feel like your time management ability leaves something to be desired, leave the internet alone for the first three hours of each day. This includes cell phone calls and messages.

He claims most people who’ve achieved success in life don’t start their days online. They rather spend those first prime hours reading, meditating, focusing on goals and planning their day. Conversely, people who start their day hopping and skipping around the internet, reading e-mails, and leaving short comments or messages, tend to carry on through the day with the same lack of focus and end up not getting much done and feeling very unsatisfied.

I’ve decided to follow his advice and see how it works, as I’ve been very frustrated at my tendency to be distracted, or lack of self-discipline. So I tried it this morning: I left the computer alone and read some devotional thoughts about Easter — then focused on some needed housework.

The upside: I feel like I accomplished something today. 🙂
The downside: Morning is my prime writing time. If I got busy with other things, I don’t get to my computer until the evening. (Mind you, it dosn’t help that I have a jigsaw puzzle on the go right now. 😉 )

Now, on to the Fire Wind:

Today was warm and the wind gusting high at times — and it’s been extremely dry here this spring. I was outside for a few minutes around 5 pm and thought: a bad day for a fire. As I’ve mentioned, over the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying to burn our “trash pile” of dead and/or pruned branches. I had a little fire last Thursday, but then the municipal Fire Ban went into effect and we can’t burn ANYTHING now. Small wonder, though: last week Saturday our volunteer firemen were called out to three big fires in this area, and we heard there was a bad one near Saskatoon last Saturday.

I came in from outside and puttered around a few minutes, then opened the west side window, since it was so warm — and I got a strong whiff of smoke. Looked out and saw smoke billowing into the sky;  it seemed to come from the farm across the field about a mile south of us. We decided to drive out and see what was happening — after all, the wind was blowing the smoke in our direction and that does make one nervous!  When we reached the road our farmer-neighbour went by in his tractor and headed across the field toward the fire.

We heard later that our son-in-law, on his way home from work, spotted the flames and called in the alarm, then went back to fight the fire. Volunteer firemen arrived and then the firetrucks, and we saw our neighbour going back and forth across the field next to that farm, plowing a fireguard to keep the fire from spreading this way in the high wind.

It burned for at least an hour and now, several hours later, there are still flashing lights at that farm. The fire was burning in their trees, so I imagine some firemen are watching to see it doesn’t flare up again.

I haven’t posted anything in honor of National Poetry Month for a few days, but thinking of fire makes me think of Aussie poet Frank Prem’s book DEVIL IN THE WIND, about the devastating bush fires he witnessed in 2009. This promises to be a fascinating account in poem form! It’s for sale now on Amazon. Here’s the dazzling cover — and the link (Amazon .com)

Devil In The Wind: Voices from the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires (Poetry Anthology Book 2) by [Prem, Frank]

 

Cleaning Up The Yard

from the earth they came
to earth the trees return
ashes in the wind

Yesterday morning there was no wind and the grass was sparkling with a heavy dew, a perfect morning for a little fire, so I worked for awhile at returning to earth all the dead branches the winter winds dropped around our lawn and all the trimmings we collected last summer and fall.

I enjoy sitting beside a small fire; it feels so cozy. And the idea always intrigues me, as I watch a fire devouring bunches of twigs and logs, how a whole tree can be reduced to such a small pile of ashes. Of course I must write a poem about this. 😉

Last year it was so dry in our area the RM (rural municipality) put on a burning ban all summer. Even at that our menfolks on the volunteer fire department were called out a number of times. This spring it’s been so dry here that we have to be very careful about fires. In fact, if things continue this way, we’ll likely have another all-summer burning ban.  I’ve been raking dead grass and there’s always debris on the lawn in spring, plus we have a pile of dead branches from the broken-off spruce tree. I’m glad for every opportunity to burn this stuff before summer comes and there’s standing crop nearby.

This morning I woke up feeling like I was hit by a truck: arthritis having its say, I guess. Plus I have to cook both meals at the seniors’ home today, so no fire even if we have another perfect morning for one. Some pain pills, toast and a cup of coffee, and I’ll be off to work.

I hope you’re enjoying a lovely day—or evening—and heading into a great weekend.

Fire: A Fierce Foe

Aspiring Author Sammi Cox offers her Weekend Writing Prompt HERE.

I haven’t done one of these before, but Dale’s post got me enthused. The challenge is to write a seventeen-word story using the word IGNITE.

Such a short story is the tip of an iceberg, where you know there’s a whole chunk hidden under what you see on the surface. Here’s my offering, and I hope you get a glimpse of the larger story.

“We think a tossed cigarette ignited the ditch grass.” The despondent farmer watched as his wheat blazed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is a very real threat in dry years here in the western prairies. Our son-in-law is one of the volunteer firemen and has been called out different times to crops and hay fields ablaze. One Sunday morning half a dozen of our younger men left in the middle of the church service to go fight a fire.

Not a reality: You wouldn’t see a farmer standing there watching while his crop burned. The local farmers and volunteer firemen are out with tractors and loaders, working for hours, plowing or scraping fireguards to contain the blaze to one field.

This summer was so dry our municipality put a ban on ALL fires, including all outdoor BBQ pits and such, in case a stray spark would ignite a blaze. One of the main causes of fires in our area, however, are the sparks that fly from passing trains, igniting the long, dry grass along the train tracks.

Smoke Again

again this smoky haze
the incense of
an unwanted cleansing

Forest Fire

A thick blue haze has settled on the fields again today. We’ve shut all the windows, as the smoky air is hard to breathe. I hope you’ll pardon me if I’m boring you with all my versifying about forest fire —I find it hard not to think about it whenever I step outside.

On a positive note, two bright but very timid orioles have been snitching from our hummingbird feeder today.

On Fire and On the Move

Our air quality seems somewhat better today. Earlier in the week smoke from northern forest fires lay like a fog on the fields. Today there’s a faint gray haze and the sky’s a solid pale blue, but the sun’s colour is normal. I noticed only a whiff of smoke in the air when I was out earlier.

We’d have had a lot hotter temps this month if it hadn’t been for the smoke screen we’ve been living under, so I guess there’s one small blessing. Yet when I think of vast tracts of forest burning…

I wonder if the birds suffer in smoky air? The hummingbirds are still zipping around, busy at the feeder, especially in the early morning. Since it’s the end of the season I was able to buy a second feeder on sale and they seem happy to slurp from it, too. In just over a week they’ll be gone, so I’m enjoying them while I can.

I was out for a walk a few minutes ago and ONE grasshopper took flight beside the driveway. Can this be Saskatchewan! As soon as it landed I stomped on it — I don’t at all mind some species becoming extinct. Birds can’t eat them anyway, so…

Actually that’s not quite true! One fall morning about six years ago we saw a juvenile great-horned owl, still with his white baby feathers, sitting beside our garage. Mostly silent and observant, he opened his beak now and then to let out a shrill peep. Later we watched him run up and down the driveway devouring grasshoppers. You haven’t lived — or seen “funny” — until you’ve see an owl run. They’re so awkward, hopping as much side-to-side as forward!

poplar shoots
spring up in my driveway
bent on take-over
Birnham Wood creeping
to Dunsinane*

At different times this summer, walking along our driveway, I’ve thought of that phrase from MacBeth. The original owners planted a row of poplar trees on the west side of the property. Theses have grown tall in the last ten years and are no longer content to stay in one neat row. Shoot by shoot they are creeping toward our castle. Bob has been keeping them at bay with the lawn mower, but they aren’t giving up.

Which inspired me with a tanka on the subject. A tanka is a five line poem which, in old Japan, went in a syllable sequence of 5-7-5-7-5. Here’s what haiku master Alan Summers writes about it.

If you are interested in learning more about haiku, senryu, tanka, and other forms of Japanese poetry, courses are being offered this fall. For details, check out Call of the Page.

*The woods near Birnam in Perthshire, Scotland. In Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, Macbeth is told that he will only be defeated when Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane. Later, his enemy’s army comes through Birnam Wood and each soldier cuts a large branch to hide himself, so that when the army moves on it looks as if the wood is moving.
https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/birnam-wood