each summer we'd torch the fields. burning down the early spring grass that'd died as quick as it'd bloomed and the barbed cheat-grass that yellowed a majority of the acreage.
dad wheeled a propane tank on a dolly with fat tires and carried a torch that belched fire with the flick of a switch. i carried a black pvc pipe that burned slow and dripped plastic flames that i'd use to walk a drip-line firebreak opposite the main fire.
dad'd pick calm mornings, always. sometimes forgoing an entire weekend over the slightest of breeze. without wind, the fire moved slow and chewed through the tinder like a demonic combine, spewing a sweet, charcoal exhaust that smelled like camp-fire and fresh-mowed lawn.
and when we burned, the smoke would stretch to the sky as chimneys and flatten high above. but some mornings the smoke woke heavy and settled in the draws, creeping over the hills like a fog. i loved those mornings. they reminded me of movies like "platoon" and road runner cartoons. and i'd run through those thick clouds with a glottal-shout, tossing rock-grenades and dodging enemy fire, or with arms outstretched as i tried my hardest to create figure-shaped holes like wile e. coyote.
at the end, when the flames rose as ghosts and the few red embers that remained burned bright in the hearts of still-green sagebrush, my dad'd look out over the blackened landscape, pimpled in gopher mounds and veiny mouse-trails, and say it looked like "art". in a way he was right, it was art and we were artists. nature gave us the canvas and we created a charcoal vista.
north bonneville : washington