Friday, December 17, 2010


Ashes from the wood stove are emptied into a small, lidded metal trash can kept on the front porch; not exactly a decorator statement, but handy and safe.  Pine is the most plentiful firewood available here, but it has the drawback of creating the most creosote in the chimney, and I try to avoid it when possible.  It burns hot and leaves only ash.  Cedar burns hottest and fastest and doesn't leave much of anything.  Great for starting a fire, but definitely no good when it comes to banking coals for the night.  Oak is by far the best.  It might be a little harder to get going, but the logs take longer to burn so one doesn't have to keep stoking the fire and it leaves a nice bed of coal to keep the house warm and to start again in the morning by simply opening the vents and throwing in another log.  My wood supply this year is only oak.  On Tuesday, I was taking the ash can out to empty on the burn pile, which itself was empty at the time.  The sun was shining and it was lovely to be outside.  Turning to go back to the house, I looked at the pile of brush in the front yard.  Hmmm.  Burn pile empty.  Brush pile full.  Tree Guy's son coming back to burn sometime.  Leaving the ash can in the driveway, I started pulling brush.  Leaving housework I'd started to fend for itself, I spent a couple of hours unraveling the branches that had knitted themselves into a tangled mess and pulling over a mountain of brush, building up a huge burn pile.  Sometimes I think this brush is self-generating, because no matter how much I pull out and burn, I can't get the darned thing gone.  There might be some collusion with the birds who use the piles for sanctuary.  Quail scatter like buckshot from the brush when I approach, and flocks of sparrows try to reclaim their territory as soon as I turn away.  I would like to get my front yard back, regardless.

Popping a couple of Advil to quiet my screaming muscles yesterday, I planned to go to town in early afternoon.  Rain was predicted and I wanted to make the run while it was still sunny.  I had purse in hand and was saying goodbye to Bess when there was a knock on the door, and there was Sam, Tree Guy's son, and his girlfriend from Australia, Amanda.  So much for The Plan.  I will have to admit that any excuse not to go to town is a good one, and I spent a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon, standing in the sunshine, watching someone else work, smelling the wonderful outdoorsy aroma of wood smoke, and talking with Amanda from Adelaide.  I have an affinity for Aussies, dating back to reading Battle Cry by Leon Uris in my early teens.  I was in Hawaii one time in July, when it is winter in Australia and a lot of Aussies were there on vacation.  If there were a group getting on the elevator, it was a party by the third floor.  How can you not love that?  It was a kick to listen to Amanda's Australian accent and turn of phrase.  It didn't hurt that she is a ranked poker player in Australian tournaments.  Sam finished the burn pile and cleaning up all the brush from the goat pen just as the sun was dropping.  I can go to town today.

The predicted rain arrived during the night.  I've been distracted a couple of times while writing this morning by Pearl and Frank wanting to be let back in and fluffed after their damp outing.  Oh well.

1 comment:

Kathryn said...

I can see you waltzing in the front yard, Matilda!! Ah..."Battle Cry"...I never read it, but DID see the movie - probably in my teens on "The Movie of the Week" where they played it every night - and remember thinking, from that moment on, that New Zealand must be a magical place. I also remember crying, but I don't really remember anything about the plot!

Glad you got a pleasant distraction and hope that the trip to town does not take a toll. (Funny, I thought the plot of the blog was going to be about the ash can getting left on the driveway and something dastardly or hilarious happening to it or because of it because you got distracted. Thought the story was going to be about you running over the ash can as you started toward town...silly me...ya fooled me with another fun tale!)