Saturday, February 21, 2015
Summers here are long, hot and dry; fire is a constant concern. Years ago, when the house and its surroundings were a working farm, grazing animals kept the woodland understorey clear. These days there are no grazing animals here; in order to protect the house, and ourselves, as much as possible from summer fire outbreaks we spend a good deal of our winter days cutting, clearing and burning on managed fires the saplings, dead plants and unwanted shrubs which are the dangerously flammable woodland understory. As well as affording us some protection this pleasant, albeit physically taxing, work makes accessible an otherwise impenetrable wilderness, opening up new vistas and liberating previously hidden, handsome rocks and fine mature trees. The cleared paths and glades admit more light, delicious dappled sunlight, transforming a dark wilderness into something of a pleasant, cool and shady park. Added bonus returns for our work are the wild-flowers that spring from seeds which have lain dormant the soil, in some cases for decades.
I am aware that we are interfering with nature but the interference is only temporary; nature will reclaim what is hers soon enough.