Burning gorse is all well and good … until the day the fire got out of control.

A few weeks ago I wrote about removing gorse from our hill. But, of course, we didn’t actually remove it—just chopped it down and left it, some in large heaps and some scattered over the hillsides. Naturally, it couldn’t remain like this, so when it was somewhat dry hubby took on the pyromaniac mantle, armed himself with newspaper and lighter, and attacked the offending dried heaps of weeds. All went up in fire and smoke as expected, hubby had a wonderful time and I washed many blackened garments.

This scene repeated itself several times over the next couple of months. I assisted on occasion and also enjoyed myself thoroughly. There is a certain satisfaction in seeing ugly roots, stumps and branches bursting into flame and literally going up in smoke. Also, as each pile of gorse disappeared we could see where grass would grow—very gratifying.

Burning gorseBut there was a time when the man was left to himself … as well as being a builder, a would-be farmer and a wonderful husband, Jim is a pastor and thus a marriage celebrant. One fine Saturday afternoon he had a wedding to conduct, so a friend and I went for a walk along a beach down the coast. As we came back into town an hour or so later I saw a rather large plume of smoke ascending in the distance. I didn’t give this much thought until we drew nearer and I thought aloud, “That smoke looks rather like it is coming from our place.”

We continued heading in the direction of our home and the plume grew bigger—and more like it was coming from our hill. “Oh, I don’t like the look of this.”

Even my companion agreed with me now. “Oh, no! That’s too big to be just gorse …”

We arrived at the end of our street and I had a strong inclination to turn around and go and have a cappucino.

Judy the fire controller

As we pulled up in the car there was an almighty boom. Phone at the ready, in case an ambulance was needed, we rushed to the top of the hill, hearts in mouths, expecting to faint at the sight of one hubby lying prone and immobile, or burning along with the gorse or whatever had caused the explosion. We stood gazing down through the smoke, trying to decide what to do and where the body might be when a sound came forth from the smoke.

“Ha! Ha! Ha!” Jim’s booming laugh was a welcome sound above the tinkle of glass windscreens blasting to smithereens and old oil drums blowing up and soaring through the air.

The pyromaniac was having a marvelous time, as the gorse fire spread to one of the neighbour’s piles of junk. The neighbour, in the meantime, was in his tractor towing a small water tank and attempting to put out the blaze.

The aftermath was many ‘pregnant’ oil drums, several blackened pongas (which have since regrown), a couple of burned-out vehicle wrecks (of no less value than previously), one very charred hillside (now green with grass) and more black laundry.

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