The Spring Campfire- a ritual
We only make fires when there is no wind- which is usually at dusk. Absent large weather systems moving through the area, the air is most stable at dawn and dusk, when the heating effects of the sun on the landscape is at its minimum.
As the sun’s energy hits dark patches of dark green woods and lighter areas of fields of hay , etc., it creates thermal ‘elevators’ of warmer air rising up from the darker areas and drafts of cooler air sinking into the lighter areas. This is the system that allows our eagles and hawks to effortlessly soar high above, without barely flapping their wings. They are soaring on ‘thermals’ (those rising columns of air).
We would show up for our lessons and wait around dusk. Although the air felt tepid and still around us on the flight deck, the flight master had the final say. He was watching the leaves on the trees at the far end of the runway. If he could see a rippling of light green in the leaves, there would be no flights.
The bottom of tree leaves is much lighter green (it contains less chlorophyll) and so if lighter green was being shown, there was too much wind to fly! We would sit there - in the still air around us, and complain, but the reality was that the air above us was too turbulent. We had no way to know this other than the rising air the flight master could see percolating up through the leaves of the trees at the end of the runway - kind of like very sensitive windsocks!
I am always eager to burn those thousands of little twigs and branches. Afterwards we can use their ashes to fertilize our fields and garden. I think it is a more natural way to do things.
Sitting around the campfire is a very special atmosphere. You are outside, but warm from the fire, and you feel completely secure from animals. It might be in our DNA that we feel this way. We’ve been gathering and socializing around campfires for tens of thousands of years.
But the real 'stars' of the night sky are the billions of stars themselves in the vast Milky Way above. Watching them and the a few of the planets circle above, we wanted to know more about them. So we downloaded the Sky Map App for our smart phones:
A highlight for me is always to see a satellite moving through the night sky. You have to be patient and have good eyes to discover them and then track them.
Let me tell you, the night sky is a very lively place.
Unfortunately, a lot of bats have been lost due to the ‘white nose syndrome’, a white powdery fungus that has killed millions of them. Last summer we saw only one bat over our pond. CBS reported the devestating effects in New York and offered a glimmer of hope that they will recover- http://www.cbsnews.com/news/bats-die-off-may-be-leveling-off/
I hope they will recover and do what they did in the past: eat all the mosquitoes that are around, as well as other pests that harm local crops. We hardly had mosquitoes, but now it is different.
Soon there will be scrums of tiny black tadpoles along the shallow edges and the small-mouth bass will have a new generation to sustain them. At least they are still plentiful here to do their bit in controlling the mosquitoes. The frogs’ worldwide decline is not evident in our pond yet.
So our ritual Spring fire gives us a chance to observe the new cycles of life in the land around us and take stock of what needs to be done this year. Making a spring campfire is useful and good for your own well being.