Something's on Fire

One of the smells I associate most strongly with summer is the smell of smoke. But it doesn’t work unless the smoke is drifting in on the morning wind. It has to be a grass/wood smoke, thicker in the morning…in the summers in Prince Albert, every morning on the radio, there was a Forest Fire report, and there was a ‘smoke index’. Some days, you were advised to stay indoors because the smoke was so thick.

You’d be wiping ashes off your windowsills every morning, washing the ashes off the car every morning.

At night, the smoke in the air made the sun look like a huge crimson yolk, suspended mystically in an umber-coloured sky.

Sometimes the flames licked a little too close to the city, and people were evacuated in to the local high school, or sports stadium, or girl guide hall. The fellow I was in love with one summer had a family home on 24 hour watch every summer. One year, I went out there to help them back-burn and dig burn ditches. His mum spent most of one day watering the yard, the sheds, and the house, to protect it from the sparks.

I hear these ‘forest fire reports’ down here, and they make me smile. Generally, double the number of forest fires they report. Pretend at night you can hear the crackle of distant flames, or that your eyes sting every day. Pretend that all your clothes smell like campfire, after five minutes out of the dryer.

These are summer things.







5 responses to “Something's on Fire”

  1. cenobyte Avatar

    Stubble smoke is a *completely* different smell. It’s dustier, somehow.

  2. Tron Avatar

    For me, fire is always a sign of autumn – stubble burning and all that.

  3. brielle128 Avatar

    remind me sometime to show you the pics from the time a fire was about 200 yard from our house. yeah….that was scary.
    the forest fires here haven’t been bad in a few years for some reason. but i do remember exactly what you talked about. Some days my asthma was so bad, i’d just crawl back to bed and close the windows.
    speakihng of summer smells…the grass fist thing in the morning, before the sun burns off the dew.
    or….how about werehauser? ugh. i remember distanly the smell of Burns too. wow. smells.

  4. Der Kaptin Avatar
    Der Kaptin

    This reminds me of that story in the collecton “Let’s Not Let a Little Thing Like the End of the World Come Between Us.” This couple gets their kicks by, when there’s a fire evacuation, they go and break into an evacuated house and bag up a bunch of stuff that they sink to the bottom of the pool or somewhere. The family returning to their burnt-out shell of a former house are gob-smacked to see that somehow some of their stuff has been saved and they don’t have a clue how it happened or who’s responsible. Really, an outstanding read all around.

  5. cenobyte Avatar

    Heh. Yeah, now I can’t smell smoke without thinking about that book.

i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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