Sunday I was cleaning up the yard. Still had a lot of sticks and rumble left behind by hurricane Irene, so I finally decided to rake and mow. The question: what to do with all the leaves and twigs? They can’t go over the fence anymore.
The house next store is in the process of being sold. There is a “sale pending” sign out front, and pretty soon a new owner will be moving in. So my usual spot for tossing lawn trash will soon be no more. I decided to try doing the old tried and true method… burn the twigs in my little fire pit. This is a large metal bowl, measures about 3 feet across with a little grill… good for sitting around in the evenings, singing camp songs, toasting marshmallows, drinking gin and tonics — you get the idea.
Anyway, I picked up a whole pile of twigs and leafy bits in the old wheel borrow, pushed it down the yard and settled in to make a small conflagration in the pit. Things were going just fine. The smell of the smoke from the burning leaves filled my nose with memories of childhood and those days when my Dad would burn leaves in the gutter out in front of the house. Ah! Such sweet memories.
Now! I have to tell you that over the last few years I have had numerous outdoor fires in my pit and never once did a visitor from the fire department come down the driveway to investigate. In fact, at the insistance of my sister who once lived in a town where foolish people set their wooden decks on fire with outdoor firepits, I had called the local fire station to let them know I was going to be toasting marshmallows outdoors and there would be an outdoor fire… They just laughed and told me to enjoy myself. No need to call. And I never have again.
So, thinking there was no problem, I just began my little fire, tossed on some twigs and leaves and settled in to continue raking the yard, always with an eye to the fire, just in case it jumped to the potted plants! I even brought the hose around so it was within easy reach in case of some mishap.
Trala Trala. I’m raking and enjoying the nostalgia of the moment when a friend arrives. “You can’t burn leaves! You need a permit. It’s dangerous. The fire department needs to be informed. The neighbors will complain. It’s against the law.” And on and on. Of course, I just kept raking and would have kept burning leaves all afternoon but for the tall blonde Boy Scout who appeared in the driveway!
“Sorry, ma’m, you can’t have an outdoor fire.”
“Sorry, ma’am, I was just driving by and smelled the smoke. You can’t have an outdoor fire.” That’s when he looked over and saw my little fire pit and the handful of leaves that were smoldering. “Oh, I see. Are you cooking?”
“Yes.” I answered truthfully—sort of. I wasn’t cooking at the moment… but it was just about lunchtime. The propane grill just behind me was about to be turned on for hamburgers.
“Oh, I see,” mumbled the Scout. “Well as long as you’re cooking, I guess it’s all right.” And off he went.
Needless to say, my friend went ballistic. “I told you, you needed a permit!” and on and on…. and I supposed she was probably right. Boy Scouts are almost firemen aren’t they?… you know, “Always Prepared”
So we let the fire burn down to ashes, the smell of burning leaves dissipated in the air, and those fond childhood memories faded away. Sigh. It was good while it lasted.
And all those leaves and twigs? I tossed them over the fence. After all, the new neighbor hasn’t moved in yet!