Tuesday, May 27, 2014
fire, feast and song
There's this little clearing in a piece of forest on our farm that I've had my eye on for a while now. It's a funny little spot in between two paddocks and behind the windmill dam that looks thick and bushy from the outside. It's the type of spot you could easily walk past without giving it much thought at all. But a while ago, possibly even years ago, my farmer boy took me in through the trees and showed me how there was a lovely space inside and a big pile of wood and sticks in there that needed burning. I've been thinking about lighting that bonfire ever since.
I love the feeling of walking through the little foresty bit as it opens up into a clearing. It's like our own little secret garden. And this autumn it's been particularly beautiful in there with streams of sunlight and dappled shadows.
Most weekends I've been suggesting that we head down there with a picnic and a box of matches but this past Saturday we finally did. Us five and farmer Bren's folks, my knitting, some tools, and a box of ingredients to make a bonfire feast.
We got the fire going and then we spent a while cutting down gorse bushes and blackberry plants and neatening up the space. I love being part of the whole family team that cuts down, drags over and feeds the fire. I love the roars of excitement as the branches of gorse catch alight and the flames seem to shake the high tree branches and touch the sky. I love that feeling of being burning hot on the front and freezing cold on the back and rotating to keep myself evenly warm.
And I love how after we had been working a while, the girls got to work on the feast. Working together to measure, mix, roll and cook.
We took turns making and baking. We discussed old cooking techniques and invented new ones. We cut and sharpened the longest sticks we could find, so we could reach the hottest fire. We ate jacket potatoes with rosemary and cheese, toasted marshmallows, and damper with Vegemite, or butter, or jam. We burnt our fingers and spilled things on our clothes and gulped down water. We went from hard-working hungry to full as bulls in not very long time. And we dreamed and told stories of the parties we would throw in the clearing now it is clear and planned to bring in stumps and slabs of wood for future furniture.
And it was all delicious and wonderful. But my very favourite part of all came after the sun set, when it was pitch black except for the fire. It felt like midnight but was possibly not long past six when the girls started singing. And for the next few hours we all sang and sometimes danced and laughed and laughed. One song after the other just voices in melodies and harmonies.
And it occurred to me as I sat up against my farmer boy watching their glowing faces and listening to their songs that finally after years and years and years of entertaining them with nursery rhymes and silly games, that they are finally entertaining us. And I felt blessed beyond measure.
I'm sure that that night when we all went back up to the house that we all dreamed exhausted, smokey, secret garden dreams.
I went down to that same space yesterday in the late afternoon to check if the fire was still burning, to see what the newly cleared space looked like a few days later and to have a few minutes of silence for myself and I could still feel something special there. I've got plans for another visit soon with a pot of soup and some Turkish coffee. Hopefully winter is kind and allows it.
I hope you are having a gorgeous day.
Lots of love