It is not every day there are twenty men at the bottom of my drive in tight uniforms. But yesterday I was surrounded. Next to our house is a plot of land owned by a local man. Yesterday morning he decided to burn some shrubs. What he had not factored in was the fact that there was a lot of wind and his small bonfire soon threatened to ravage most of the valley.
Rupert and I saw the flames from our house and rushed over. I called the fire brigade and waited, watching helplessly as the flames destryoed everything around them. Luckily for us the wind was blowing away from the house, or I may not be feeling quite so calm about it today.
I was impressed with the fire brigade, although they took a while to show up. They stationed one fire engine at the end of our drive, just in case the direction of the wind should suddenly change.
Once the flames had died down and the men in uniform had left Rupert and I walked along the road to survey the damage. The hill looked like a black desert. And the smell was reminiscent of a BBQ gone terribly wrong.
Leonardo was not impressed when he came back from school. “This is not good,” he announced. “This is not good at all.” The girls, who had heard at school that ‘Sainte Cecile was on fire’ were angry. “That’s not nice for the trees,” said Bea. “What an idiot. Why did he go and do that?”
I feel sorry for our neighbour. He might have been a bit silly but he certainly didn’t expect all this. He wandered around his scorched earth shaking his head mumbling “there was no wind when I started the fire.” Another villager who came up to take a look (not much happens around here and this was big news) was more philosophical. “It won’t be the last time someone sets fire to the countryside,” he said.
I’m sure it won’t. But apart from the obvious damage to the trees the sad thing is that everything was looking so lovely and green for once due to the rain we’ve had. But now, rather like Amy, we’re Back to Black.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2008