Fiery Friday

Photo: Great fire day todayDSC02173

Seems we all love Fridays: the one day in the allotment week when we are allowed to burn garden rubbish: dry weeds, bits of timber, holed sacks, brash, hedge prunings, raspberry canes cut off last week …

This Friday little smudges of smoke rising from here and there, rooted in bright orange embers or flames as we all seek to get rid of “in the way stuff”. Plots being cleared for new occupants, a shed that is way, way past its lean-by date going up in flames, “squitch” (couch) grass rhizomes …


The weather is fine; apparently there were Northern Lights in the skies last night (a sight I missed but would love to have seen) but there is no sign of the predicted snow and the wind is light and changes direction often.

The site is a buzz of expectant activity.

The sounds of people breaking up wood to build fires, digging; the scents of smoke – and, dare I ask is that petrol? Blackbirds tugging long wisps of dried grass from compost heaps  It is spring and feels like it. Patience is the watchword. There is still the possibility of frosts – and they will still bite deep into the soil (later ones will simply be surface-only frosts) and damage seeds or emerging seedlings.

I light the fires – one in a brazier, ready stacked and one open ground fire and tramp about laying more slabs: proud of the path that is growing down the hedgerow. It is reasonable to put a path here: the roots of the hedge plants and the shade they cast means little can grow well in this space, the path enables access, makes maintaining the hedge easier and looks tidy. But, in laying the slabs I am chopping the hedge back and dragging the assorted briar brambles, hawthorn, hazel and holly clippings to the fire. On one trip I notice a perfect crocus peeping out of wood chip which borders the raised bed we used last year for courgettes and outdoor tomatoes. I make a mental note not  to trample it.DSC02175

Using up the leaned-together slabs clears a space on the plot and I reach a stage where my back is telling me I’ve laid enough slabs (thank you very much) and so I take the fork and turn over the soil. Sure I have said it before – perhaps many times – but for me there is something therapeutic about digging.DSC02176

Linked with burning it becomes magical.

The smoke wraps itself around me as I work and my clothes will, no doubt stink of it back at home but in the moment it feels good. A precursor to planting seeds and the magical period of germination and growth.

Here’s to more such moments.



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