Brush Fires, S’mores: Spring is Sprung in Maine
Well, spring has finally sprung here in Mahoosuc Mills. The tulips and daffodils are up, the forsythia’s in bloom. Women are spring cleaning, planting their annuals. The menfolk are revving up their lawn mowers. And the black flies are here in spades. I don’t let our little dog Scamp out at sunset ‘cause I’m afraid those flies’ll carry him away. I kid you not!
We had a hell of a winter up here, so everyone’s got a lot of blow down to clear out of their yards. All weekend long, the air is filled with the drone of chain saws and the smell of burning brush.
And of burning grass, too. I love that smell! Reminds me of when I was little, Irene and me “helping” our Dad burn the grass in our big side yard. We were always so excited. Well, in our young lives, it was a big day. I can still picture how our dad looked, managing the whole operation, so handsome with his jet-black hair, chewing Wrigley Spearmint gum.
Of course, nowadays, in order to burn stuff in Mahoosuc Mills, you got to get a burn permit. Duncan Smith is in charge of such things. Duncan’s this big guy with carrot-red hair, brush cut, a round head, and ruddy complexion. Around town he’s known as Pumpkin, ‘cause of how he looks, and ‘cause it rhymes with Duncan. If you’re perplexed by this, you must be from away. Here’s a rule of thumb when it comes to conversing with us Mainers: if you’re referring to the round, orange squash you carve to make a jack-o-lantern, you pronounce the second “p”: pumpkin. But when you use it as a term of endearment or as someone’s nickname, it’s pronounced “Punkin.” Important distinction up here!
Charlie’s always all jacked at the prospect of burning stuff. What man isn’t, right? He’s been looking forward to it all week. ‘Course, it’s even more fun if you can merge your brush pile with your neighbor’s. Make it really big: a bonfire! It’ll be a potluck affair, with the women holding down the fort inside while the guys drink Bud and stare into the fire. They could do this for hours, poking the pile and adding more branches. Get’s ‘em in touch with their inner caveman, I guess.
Me? I’m in it for the s’mores. God, I love them things! Even when I burn the marshmallow. Especially when I burn the marshmallow!
Other than that, I don’t really see the appeal of a bonfire. You got to wear old clothes, ‘cause one stray spark could ruin your favorite sweater. Then the wind changes and smoke gets in your eyes and hair (which is a problem for me, ‘cause I get it done once a week down to Hair Affair, and have to live with smokey hair ‘til my next appointment.) Plus, the conversation is kind of sleepy. That’s the only way to describe it. Everyone’s staring into the fire, talking real low, ‘bout basically nothing.
But Charlie just loves it, and it makes me happy to see him happy. Plus, over the course of the spring burning season, at least one brush or grass fire goes awry. As you probably know, Charlie is a Mahoosuc Mills volunteer fireman, so once his beeper buzzes, he’s off like a bat outta hell. Well, first one there gets to drive the truck, so it’s worth the rush!
Between stokin’ our bonfire and the potential of being called out to fight someone else’s, we’re talking win/win, as far as Charlie’s concerned. God love him!
Me? I’m happy poking around Boudreau’s Farm looking for a nice hanging plant for the deck, maybe something different for the flower boxes. Yup, spring has finally sprung!
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flip side!
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