Saratoga’s western plateau still holds the snow. This is where I live and the back yard and the “extra acre” out back is still coated with white crust, ankle-deep, as I write this. March is just about over. But the grip of winter is still evident here. I’m not going to rant about how rough the winter was…as a billion other bloggers I’m NOT going to read have no doubt already done. I’m just saying… it’s still here.
There are no daffodils coming through the permafrost yet up here. The robins are a long way from finding any worms in my yard yet, though within a week, could be a different story.
I should have had the ritual fire on the Equinox, ten days ago, but I procrastinate at these things, and it was too cold for an outside fire, i.e. I wimped out– from what I recall. I had some dry wood stacked… and the dried out blue spruce (now a brown spruce), aka this year’s ex-Christmas tree, was atop, ready to ignite. Maybe it was time now to celebrate the symbolic transition, before April arrived. I set the match to the crispy egg cartons I’d saved in the garage for such an occasion. The risk of a fire spreading was absolutely nil what with the persistent snow cover. Outdoor fires would be banned a month from now but few people were outside in my neighborhood so who would care, or even notice. I burn a HOT fire, with no smoky smoldering. The signal goes straight to the sky– the Universe loves symbolic gestures, I believe Louise Hay would say. Burning the tree is saying Good riddance to both last year and winter itself. If dried properly, it is a fast goodbye. It is also a searing, pleading Hello to Spring…. please, where are you?.
This was my first ritual spring fire in the backyard with a dog alongside. Bentley was coming up on his first birthday, a lanky 75 pound athlete of a golden retriever, with the hops of a massive jackrabbit, and the galloping moves of a wide receiver. He thought the pile of sticks aflame was some kind of magic, which was true. He skittered around the outside of the circle as it took off, fully amazed, and sniffing the perimeter. Since the kids were all inside and not as fascinated by this kind of thing as they used to be, it was good to have a companion for my Druid Rituals for Dummies practice session.
The fact is, it was not an impressive bonfire, even by my own standards, much less my buddy’s, down the road, who, when he plans such an event, carefully crafts the conical assemblage of hardwood chunks and piney branches for maximum rise to the skies. His fires can be seen from space, as we used to say back in the day. His fires also sometimes raise the ire of neighbors, who tend to adhere to the deed restrictions of “cooking fires only” in one’s backyard space. Upon Chris’s fires, you could sear an entire steer, or an ox for that matter, and mere hotdogs would be swiftly incinerated.
But this is the back country of Greenfield where a man should be able to create and contain his own flames… dammit. I am libertarian to at least that extent. As long as his fire is pure dry north country wood, and he is not the idiot burning his garbage for everyone else to smell, in which case he should of course be snuffed out, a fire on one’s own over-an-acre property should not be verboten. I don’t mean everyday, like a bunch of cavemen. But once in a while, for a ritual, if you will, let primitive man indulge in these brief Promethean endeavors… that go back to our dim ancestral roots. (I don’t mean to advocate this behavior out west where it’s dry; but here where it’s this damp and cold and wet, it’s fine.)
But I digress… this fire was just a quickie, not an epic burning (or thinking) session. Not intended to be a pull-up-a-chair and watch, long-night spectator event, just a signal to the heavens that we (or specifically, I) was more than ready for a change. People sitting in an apartment can change their TV station, their computer screens, and whatever is on their own phones, but not really their own environment. They can adjust it with input: drink or intoxicants, food or art or music or movies, but they can’t just go outside and look up, on their own piece of land; they can’t really “have a fire.”
As Jim Morrison (master of induced incantations, who never learned to nor wanted to moderate his input) once intoned:
“Out here on the perimeter, there are no stars…
And in fact, this was a cloudy night at the end of March as our flare of smoke rose, straight up, no wind to disperse it. Starless. Immaculate… for young Mr. Morrison that must have been a rare cloudy night on the outskirts of L.A. As for the rest of that chorus, I’ve wondered for years… weird scenes inside the goldmine, he chanted prophetically. His version of: As above, so below…
I treasure the freedom to be out here in the country, not the City, not the suburbs, (where rules have to be stricter); to be outside in any weather, confronting the cosmos on its own terms, conjuring the sense of the Immense… d’uh! And then realizing we’re just a pinprick of light ourselves, a humble spark of temporary energy, flaring up to get noticed, and then settling back to earth, darkened to carbon, ashes to dust. Ah, it was getting too heavy. The fire was over. There was a puddle of grim and grimy grey melted ice encircling the dying down flames, squelched by moisture all around, ankle deep snow, on the perimeter... The fire wasn’t going anywhere. Finito.
Spring was on its way, though not here yet. I was going back inside, to get ready for tomorrow, and call it a day. Call it a winter. A rougher one than normal, in many ways, but now it was over, and there was a new phase to get to. That’s all I’m saying.
I told you ahead of time, this was just a quickie.
See you next time,
Wayne at WaynesWord2, a small spark and part of: “www.saratoga.com”
Copyright Wayne Perras 2015
P.S– for anyone of you who care, or are paying attention, I am in the process of back-filling my blog, slowly finishing some of the aborted written missions of the past winter, often interrupted by snow removal… “my back pages” as it were. Thanks for reading! More to come, both backward and forward.