Monday, February 15, 2010

Toads, bonfires, and tea

Oh what gardening fun we had this weekend. Partner promised to level out the new vegetable bed and put in a walkway.While doing so he found a bleary toad. Far too early to wake up from hibernation, Partner took it to a pile of leaves in another corner of the garden.
The very same day I suggested we cut down some overgrown elders that cast shade onto our new vegetable plot: this ended up becoming a two day operation. One such overgrown tree was cut down and into manageable chunks, and the next day another two trees came down (incidently, the tree behind Partner in the above picture was one of the unlucky ones--check out the photo of me below: clear view of the neighbor's shed and no tree). What to do with all this green wood? Burn it! And where is our bonfire pit? In the new vegetable bed! It took two attempts to get this fire going. It's HARD to make a fire of green wood--we didn't have any old seasoned wood. The first attempt went through ten newspapers. The second attempt took ten cardboard boxes plus the contents of our paper recycling.
Not to mention that in order to burn efficiently, the trees needed to be cut into logs and sticks, which then needed to be trimmed. If they weren't trimmed, the twigs on them (green and stubbornly fire-resistant) held the wood too far from the coals and flames to burn; this is why our first attempt failed: there was too much of a gap between pieces of wood due to the tangle of twigs.

We had tea, sandwiches, and scones while out coaxing the bonfire. Don't worry, Partner washed his hands after grappling with the toad.
Altogether we sat with the fire (adjusting and fanning the flames often) for about six hours. We did not have the raging inferno of Bonfire Night, though it wasn't for lack of trying. If there hadn't been so much wood in the first place (too much to stack, in other words), I would've given up after the first attempt. All gardening/tea party photos are here:

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