Bonfire of the Zombies

Today is the bonfire, and I’m excited.  My dreams have been bizarre lately, including one nightmare this week where no one remembered me.  I remember a sort of reverse dementia, a living-death zombie world where I was a stranger to everyone. I have a sense the fire will heal me.

The Bearded One has installed a water sprinkler atop the aviary, to keep any embers from burning holes in the tarp roof.

The goats and chickens are locked down in the lower pasture, and the goats are not happy about the sprinkler as it is keeping them from the best view of the fire.  They stand and stare.  Like cats, they are endlessly curious.

I lay my nightmare at least partly onto cleaning the bookshelves for weeks, touching all those other worlds, all those stories.  Now the fire is all the reality there is.  Heat sears my face.  I am glad the Bearded One made me put these goggles on.  “It’ll roast your eyeballs up close,” he said.  Sap pops.  Sparks shoot straight up.

It’s a full moon, the week of Halloween.  Our root cellar — a four-foot deep hole in the hillside with an adobe rim and a wooden cover — is empty, but I’m filling it with cabbages tomorrow.

Cabbages go into the big root cellar.  Apples go into the little one.  Carrots just stay in the ground.

For now I rake debris and feed the coals.  I throw a pile of sticks into the neon orange glow.  It’s hard to breathe.  A huge black stump burns in the middle of the inferno.

Yesterday, we had a visitor, a lovely thirty-something massage therapist, a long-time friend of the kids, who is bored at work and fascinated with farm life and wants to know other realities.  At least for a couple of hours.  We talked and toured and ate burritos and cabbage and berry pie.  The cabbage was a bit bitter, not the best.  I hope the head I sent her home with is better.

During lunch, the Bearded One, who I have been married to for fifteen years but met in 1975, told our guest that he went to a naturopath back in the 1980s.

“I didn’t know that about you,” I said and put down my fork.

My shock was as much that I didn’t know something about this man as that this former insurance defense litigator — in his own words, Evil Incarnate — would seek out alternative medicine.  His neck really hurt for a while after getting rear-ended by, as he says, “a nice lady in a big station wagon holding a tiny poodle in her lap.”

Our visitor told us about an alpaca farm she visited.  She verbally built that whole world for us, the peaches and apricots, the broad middle-of-the-state valley, the river, the sunny sky, and the family including a thirty-something daughter who is a naturopath.  I make a note to research their remarkable method for calming the alpacas for shearing — a lavender-based potion that makes them woozy and cooperative.  Genius!

The fire roars now.  The Bearded One hoses it down periodically so that the flames don’t soar 30 feet up into the cedar trees.  He joins me, then draws me back to look at the cedar circle hanging 16-18 feet up a tree, mystical in the smoke.

He marvels at the long dead branches that stretch out in the summer, and still actually curl back up 4 or 5 feet in the winter rain.  “What is it in those cells that still operates?” he asks.

“Zombie branches,” I say, feeling like myself again. “It’s Halloween.”

12 responses to “Bonfire of the Zombies

  1. I’ve got some Zombie branches too…Happy Halloween!

  2. Christine Widman

    Oh Christi, you know how I adore, delight in, celebrate, swoon over Halloween.
    Last night, my love, our nephew, and I watched Ghost Busters together – eating popcorn and munching peanut M&Ms from little Halloween treat bags.
    Tonight we are going to watch either Ghost or Young Frankenstein.
    I love to watch funny scary movies at Halloween. I never watch real scary movies.
    I too know that sense of “who am I”?
    Sometimes I get that zombie feeling after many days of working very very very hard at the B&B.
    No contact with heart friends or family face to face.
    I think that’s the main cause. A kind of erasure of intimacy from a load of long work days.
    And yes, things like bonfire magic or a searing sunset or the haunting call of coyote or great-horned owl can restore me to myself.
    These kinds of mysteries are part of the allure of the Halloween night.
    Boo! to you and the Bearded One…and love.

    • You are right-on about my zombies, Christine. “An erasure of intimacy” after long days of work (in the kitchen lately) leaving me wondering who I am. The bonfire was perfect medicine. Hope you have a lovely Halloween movie night. Hugs to Denny, too!:)

  3. The bearded one is looking decidedly wintery in the tarp protection photo. He also looks like he is an ex band member of Creedance Clearwater Revival! Here on Serendipity Farm we don’t wear goggles when we have bonfires…we do it old school and suffer dry eyes for days afterwards ;). I envy you your root cellar! We can’t dig a post hole let alone a hole big enough to put roots in on Serendipity Farm :(. Too many volcanic rocks. They DO say that a wise man builds his house upon the rocks… I guess someone took that to heart when they built this place! The saying didn’t go on to say “the wise man built his garden on the rocks” though did it! Again we echo each others lives. We have a pile of debris that needs burning before it gets too hot and we get a fire ban. Our elderly neighbour Glad could care less about fire bans. She is 90 and figures that the local authorities are not going to lock her up for burning the odd pile of leaves. She is out there day after day tending her garden, riding her ride on lawn mower and burning things. I think she is a pyromaniac that age has tempered but she passed it on to her daughter Wendy who spends her days working silently with her mum burning grass…chopping wood etc. Even our burning pile is similar! We have a huge black stump from an old dead tree that we removed in the middle of our pile that smoulders for days whenever we set fire to our debris piles!
    We don’t have those amazing blair witch cedar circles but we do have tiny cedars…perhaps cedar circle futures? Its always funny how people that you know so well are able to flabergast you with things that you don’t know about them. Steve occasionally does it to me and after an equal 15 years with this man, I figured that I knew everything about him. I am enjoying your cooling down posts and when summer is raging around me and I am laying with my cheek on the bathroom tiles in a vain effort to extract a degree of cool whilst shoving the dogs to get the best spot next to the vanity, I will at least have some hope that March will bring us some cool hope! Happy Halloween over there and make sure that cedar circle doesn’t catch fire or that bonfire may just be on our 9 oclock news! 😉

    • The Bearded One has a wonderful baritone voice and could have been a rock star, in my humble opinion. He also writes heart-rending songs that make the kids laugh…Molly calls them his “I’m dying don’t try to save me” tunes. lol Thanks for the kudos on the root cellar, but it took all of August, 2011 for me to hack it out of the earth with a construction bar and shovel. There were rocks galore, and hard pan. I don’t plan to do it again.:) Here’s to our synchronicitious bonfires and lives!

  4. There’s always something special about fire. I think it’s primal. Then again, maybe it’s how close it’s come to killing me, and thus maybe it’s just a personal thing. I’d be scared as hell to light one where you’re at, believe that.

  5. Another great post …. and I think that those illustrations are getting better all the time 🙂

  6. I like your root cellar. I didn’t realise you could just dig your own.

  7. Ah, the root cellars. Impressive!

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