Fanning the still air, back and forth, back and forth, alchemist palming the blue fire of potential; it stifles me, this heat, blood clearly not meant for boiling. Tools line up like minions awaiting my grasp; mute, dumb things without which this half-acre garden cannot flourish. Energy wasted on cooling set aside now, I force myself up, even this small effort launching the drip, drip, dripping brow, maddening saltwater torture.
The willingness has ever been present, body along for the ride, exuberant at times and exhausted in turns, tasking piles of brush by the snow-blanketed shoreline, together or alone, barely allowing time to swish water down, much less anything more substantial. Small dry kindling, old newspaper, curls of birch bark placed under a criss-cross of dead limbs, impatience growing in my young heart, desiring only to begin chucking larger boughs and trunks into the conflagration, anxious to clear the lakeside trail before hordes of biting flies settle in for the season.
Flames arch high, reaching into the interstices between hemlock and fir, bough tips igniting, sizzling spirals twisting black and orange into a palette of soft grey sky punctuated only by giant plumes of charcoal white smoke. Fires lit and tended, I have only to work steadily at reducing mountains of brush to cinders and ash. Trudging through greasy slush now, lugging five-gallon buckets of water from crystal clear waters, dousing again and again. Nothing left to chance in this sixty-five acre stretch of forest, and in thirty years, no wildfires have ever been ignited by my hand. Romancing the flame.
Focus is strength; focus can do a person in. This ability has brought me to this point, this task, mountain of macnut husk awaiting wheelbarrow, becoming wetter and heavier by the day, ceaseless rains unabating. There is rhythm in its patter and it lulls me into a semi-trance. I bask in the downpour’s cooling effect and accept I will be soaked through to the skin all day long. Scarf tied loosely now around my perspiring forehead, I walk out into arcs of rainbows and intermittent showers.
image: the woods with lake behind them where it all went down, many years ago …