Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

...because some of it is pretty and some of it is not.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bonfire 3, Mitch 0

You can give yourself a haircut with a bonfire.  Not an attractive haircut, but a haircut nonetheless.  You can also get the rough equivalent of a sunburn from a bonfire.  Neither of these practices are what you might term an “exact science.”  As we might phrase it in East Helena, Montana: “This shit can get messy.”
Allow me to explain.
Yesterday, I drove to my cabin intending to set fire to a large pile of slash left from a half-dozen beetle-kill pine trees that were knocked down for firewood last summer.  With snow depths nearly up to my waist, I was forced to snowshoe in (read ‘repeatedly fall on my ass and face’ here).  Snowshoeing, for anyone unfamiliar, is an equivalent to swimming with bundles of bricks tied to your feet.
Once I arrived at the slash pile, I had to wipe away a fair amount of snow.  Wisely (read ‘unwisely’ here), I brought newspaper, engine starter fluid, and a lighter for starting the fire.
A quick note on that: engine starter fluid is somewhat explosive.
After stuffing crumpled newspapers into the pile of branches, I sprayed a generous amount of engine starter fluid into the mix, and then brought forth my lighter.
Let’s just say that the fire burst to life with long arms and scissors and I was a bit closer than I should have been.  I got a quick, somewhat vicious, hair trim.
Fire: 1.
The wood was fairly damp, requiring me to do a lot of poking and prodding to keep flames alive.  For several hours, I danced around (read ‘flopped around in snowshoes’) the fire, keeping flames active.  Some incredible oven-like hot spots developed deep inside the pile.  My constant flirting with flames and heat left my face pink and my clothes covered with ash.
Fire: 2.
After burning throughout the middle part of the day, the fire lost ground as the pile of wood shrank down into the deep snow surrounding it.  Not wanting to leave the fire smoldering and smoking unattended, I scooped up armfuls of snow and packed them into the pile of wood, smothering the fire.  I did this for the better part of an hour.  By the end of that, I was wet and utterly exhausted.
Fire: 3.
This morning, as I write this, my entire body is sore from all of my wading around in the deep snow.  I enjoy the feel of that, actually.  Nothing better than getting your butt kicked by a bonfire at the end of winter.

--Mitchell Hegman