The First Big Burn


December 26, 2017. Step #1 in land development: clear a space to work. So we clear and burn, clear and burn, with an enthusiasm that surprises me. Is it the day after Christmas? I hardly notice. While others are returning gifts or recovering from big meals, we are chain-sawing and chopping and hauling and heaving and burning. I’m not comfortable yet with a chainsaw or an ax, so I do the hauling and heaving. The fire reaches up almost 40 feet, singeing the waterfront trees that we hope to keep. We also singe our hair if we get too close. I’m not used to big fires. It’s a bit unnerving, and I’m grateful for the surrounding snow.

The temperature is in the teens but we don’t notice until we stop for a break. Jeff brought in a tiny, well-used camper that served as a hunting shack and now serves as our warming shack. I’m surprised how much I’m enjoying this hard physical work. There’s something so satisfying about putting your back into something, literally, and seeing the result emerge. In this case, the result is a simple clearing near the waterfront — the first of many clearings, no doubt. We will keep this fire going for days as we add to it. There is so much more to do, but I push that thought away. We’re doing it! Creating a camp!

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