The morning after the night before.
Sunrise: 07.55 Sunset: 04.00
Yesterday’s willow pollarding generated a large pile of brash that we were unable to fully burn by the end of the day. It is impossible to completely burn-down a large pile of brash to white ash unless someone with a pitch fork stays with it to the bitter end. I arrived to rake over the ashes early this morning and, as expected, the fire had died shortly after leaving site yesterday and now resembled a jumbo brash doughnut with a creamy ash heart.
Willow grows faster than it rots, and there is a limit to the number of brash and log piles we want on the marsh, so we burn it.
The fire was easily reinstated by raking through the ashes and forking the remaining brash over them. I left site at 9.15 this morning, after the flames had finished dancing and leaping into the air.
On my return this evening, the marsh was in darkness. It soon became clear that the flames had once again failed the minute I turned my back on them this morning. I spent the next couple of hours incinerating every piece of brash on the hot ashes.
It’s the first day of December, but instead of icy cold this evening felt quite warm. I worked comfortably in shirt sleeves, and without a hat. The River Stour roared and bubbled as it crashed along the new rock weir a few metres away. Owls hooted and shrieked, and deer barked in the distance.
I like clear dark starry evenings on the marsh, and the warm glow of a bonfire makes the place seem pleasantly homely. A head torch flashed at the entrance gate. I glimpsed a yellow jacket. Police, I thought. I flashed back and Ted, the scrap yard owner, soon emerged beaming from the shadows: visiting for a chat. Billy, the scrapyard guard dog, looks like a wolf on steroids. He is a lovely dog, though, as long as strangers stay outside the scrapyard boundaries. If people don’t know about the super wolf, they get a terrible fright when they step though the scrapyard gate; he is extremely intimating – he shouts a warning most times I am passing at night.
The brash fire had burned down to a sparkling, crackling dull red. There is something about a dying fire that encourages grown men to stand, ponder, and seek solace in its flickering. So as the heat calmed, we stood and stared for a bit, or leaned on the fork in my case. It wasn’t long before we began putting the world to rights in a quiet and respectful way. This evening was one to cherish, and Ted shared some of it with me. The dulling fire glow and the lack of brash to burn brings the evening to a natural conclusion, and we both know it was time to call it a night. My stomach is looking forward to my evening meal.
This image is of the brash fire after I revived it this morning. It doesn’t look very wide but it is quite long.
The image below is of the brash fire before Ted arrived.