Field and Fire
The ten-acre property where I live borders two other parcels: a huge tract of land owned by the school district, and fifteen acres of conservation land belonging to the homeowner’s association up the hill. When we first moved here, most of our property was separated from the neighboring land by an old barbed wire fence.
One fine breezy afternoon in May, sometime in the pre-mobile-phone era, I looked westward out the kitchen window and saw an alarming sight. Beyond the fence to the west were a man, a woman, and some burning brush.
As a fireman’s daughter, I don’t take fire lightly. My farmhouse and barn were a couple hundred years old and built of wood; if fire came anywhere near the buildings, we were toast.
I ran across the field to ask what was going on. The man informed me, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, that they were burning the field for the sake of the haying. I told him I didn’t want my field burned, much less my house and barn, and that they’d better keep the fire off my property.
Indicating the walkie-talkie he was carrying and the small metal container on his back, complete with attached hose, the man said condescendingly that he was a volunteer firefighter and he knew what he was doing. He wouldn’t let the fire come onto my field if I didn’t want it there, but his tone suggested that I was an idiot for minding.
I turned away, wondering whether to give him a chance or call 911 sooner rather than later. My decision was made for me by the fact that the fire was onto my land and making quick progress toward the buildings before I was halfway to the house.
I ran back to tell the guy to call for help, only to find him already assuring his buddy at the fire station that he didn’t need any help, he had it all under control.
This time I raced back to the house and called 911. “He does too need help!” was the gist of my message. Luckily, a neighbor had already done the same, and the fire trucks arrived before I could even end the call.
My kids were traumatized, several dozen baby trees were dead, and the fence posts were burned to the ground. The aftermath of this event, while minor, lasted for several years, but eventually the fence was fixed and a few new baby trees were planted.
The field has gone through many changes since then.This gallery includes several pictures of its many seasons and moods.