Sunday, January 4, 2009


When you live in the country,  trees always seem to be losing limbs.  Either they come down naturally (our native pines are bad for shedding large dead ones) or a fruit tree needs pruning to keep the pears and plums healthy or an ice storm takes out a whole tree.  Thus the need for bonfires.

In a normal year, we burn ours sometime during the Christmas holidays.  When the decorated evergreen loses its lights and the fragile ornaments go back into their boxes, the tree is unceremoniously hauled out the back door and becomes the basis for the new year’s burn pile.

Most farmers and landowners burn their piles during the day, but Deborah Knott’s father (much like my own father) always burns his at night.  He’s not going to wax lyrical about it, but Deborah knows how he loves to stir the pile with a pitchfork and watch the sparks gush up into the dark sky like a fountain of bright liquid fire.

My nephew inherited his grandfather’s fascination with fire, so we try to save the bonfire for his winter visit if we can.  (The picture is of last year's fire.)

Not all bonfires are equally successful though.  One New Year's Eve, a cousin (the model for one of Deborah’s older brothers) had such wet soggy wood on his that it took gasoline to get it started.  We were all laughing so hard that I wound up fictionalizing a version of the incident in my short story “Bewreathed.”  It was collected in Murder Most Crafty, by Maggie Bruce, a pseudonym of the much-missed Marilyn Wallace.  If you’d like to read it, click on my Tour button up above.

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