File: Career Choices I Correctly Never Made: Smoke Eater
Yesterday started out uneventfully enough, but soon was over-taken by sheer pandemonium (a distant, unappreciated cousin of Utter, Total, and Complete...)
I went to town successfully (ie: no sugar crash, no off-diet, remedial eating, but also, low water consumption, and came home to find my sometimes helper, a sixteen-year-old girl mowing the lawn. One of the never freeze waterers was leaking - we collectively could not break the bolt so we could take it apart. She's going to ask her dad, who is no longer working.
We've been monitoring the wind for over a month, and decided it was favorable for burning the trash/brush pile, which was overflowing with downed limbs collected from ice storm damage, noxious weeds removed from the pastures, etc. Just before she left S. S. lit the summer's brush pile with discarded paper scraps from my house-sorting efforts and headed home. I did not realize she'd left the fire untended (signals crossed...)
Soon, the Wayne County Sheriff's dispatcher called, very NOT PLEASED. Wayne county, it seems is under a burn ban due to drought. I have to agree with the wisdom of that, in hind sight... but it frankly never occurred to me. I told S, who always carries her cell phone, that we were adding a step to our procedure - check with a county official before burning...:-(
I went down in my good shoes and fancy "go to town" red 3/4 sleeve V neck with lace from my sister L.H.'s recent successful "reduction in size" garage sale-ing on my behalf, (even though "best-dressed" Firefighter is NOT a Wayne County Award), but could not find any buckets, no rake, nothing sack-like suitable for beating, so I armed myself with a 1/2" horse week stalk taller than my head and began stomping on the edges and flailing/flinging dirt. Slowly I cornered the grass fire burning its merry way up the ditch, before it erupted into my neighbor's hay field, but weed stalks, broken off tree limbs, and standing tree roots would re-ignite. I was there for hours.
Finally, S. M., whose children I taught in school, pulled over on my side, but heading north, (to see what weird thing I was up to now), and ask if he and his well-dressed pals could deer hunt on my back 40, introduce me to a stranger visiting him (I shook hands with P., loved the neat accent, but could not place it, either genuinely never heard it before, or too distracted/distraught to recognize it). Stopping to chat about language acquisition would only happen in theatre of the absurd. The third man looked very distinguished with black/white/gray hair. Although he seemed vaguely familiar, I either can't remember or never knew his name. Although they were heading north, duded up, and didn't have access to a bucket, (SM also lives on a farm, but must not have any livestock currently...unless he meant in his vehicle with him at the present time...)
After a bit of discussion about ways/means more effective than the now frayed weed stalk I was using, someone suggested substituting a trash can for the water bucket. The trio were way not in firefighting apparel and were heading north, but wouldn't be late if they babysat the hot spot while I made a dash to the house.
Of course, the trash only had a liner in it, since I'd emptied everything prior to lighting the fire. Grabbing my biggest mixing bowl, I enthusiastically dipped the plastic container 3/4 full, dumping the bowl on top. Oops, I'd overestimated my hauling capacity. Dip and dump, test... eventually, I discovered my new, way diminished capacity. Heart in throat, I balanced the trash can on my new leather seat and crept down hill.
When I got back, SM had located a one gallon wormer bucket with a handle (from the time of OMEGA) dipped it in the water trough and dumped it on the biggest, hardest to reach blaze. P. had tramped out a perimeter barrier (a la forest fire-fighting training) and Distinguished was rolling a medium sized log in gravel dust to extinguish it, but the driveway was packed too hard to be dusty enough to work. I registered the second "thinking outside the box" evidence from this group, and tried to remember if he was the one who suggested the trash can...
By sunset, I had only "smokers" Scottie thought "would just have to burn out" when they set off to wherever they were heading, and was so exhausted I thought I could afford to agree with him without putting my neighbor's hay field at risk again.
I came back hourly until there was no more smoke. By 3 a.m., I let the elation at beating the fire without having to call out the volunteer fire fighters fade and got up to shower again. I am allergic to smoke, and my hair carried too much to tolerate, so I got to test my shampoo's brag that it would not dry out hair with daily use by upping the ante to twice a day...
Another alternate career choice bites the dust...