Still Burning

Still burning after three weeks.

Last month, on the 12th to be exact, I decided I would dispose of some old financial records that weren’t needed any more. I also had a stump in the backyard from a tree that was cut down this spring. It seemed to be a good idea to me to burn the papers and possibly the stump at the same time. I started the fire right on top of the stump and probably spent an hour getting rid of the paper. The stump was perhaps two feet in diameter and began to burn a little around the edges so I put some dry wood on it and kept it going.

It did eventually begin to burn all the way to the middle – over the next week! We would think it had gone out but a wisp of smoke would go skyward every time the irrigation would water it, so we knew there was still heat there. A couple of times I would find downed branches (we live surrounded by trees) and throw them on the stump and in an hour or so we would see flames again.

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The stump itself was about two feet in diameter but the roots spread out quite a bit more. Today it began to flame again.

We had one really good rain and a couple shorter ones, and still the stump burned. It began to look different, kind of like a volcano that had blown its top. The husband was always looking out the glass doors to see if it was smoking. I was worried that the constant drift of smoke would get the neighbors upset, but maybe, like me, they kind of like the smell of a wood fire.

For the last week the fire has seemed to be out. The caldera, as the husband likes to call it, is huge, black and ashy and surrounded by its rim of large roots. We have been poking it and trying to see if we could make it level with the ground around it, but it was still needing an axe or a chain saw to break it up. As the irrigation ran this morning I was surprised to see it start smoking again. Something in there, underground, was still hot.

I have heard how important fire was to nomads who moved their camps frequently, how they would carry coals in special containers to have a fire starter when they needed it. The longevity of my burning stump must be something like that. Joe came today and cut what was left of the roots in pieces and set them on top of the hot area. Late this afternoon it flamed and our volcano is glowing hot again. I don’t know why fire and its attributes are so interesting to me, but there it is. Burning. Glowing. Fascinating.

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