Today is one of the first sunny days of the year. It is also a Sunday. Catching up day. But today, like yesterday, is blighted by the compulsion of some to light fires. This time it is a neighbour a couple of fields away who is the culprit, yesterday it was someone too far away to see, but not so far that to stop the smoke drifting in our direction.
Having a bonfire isn’t exclusively a November 5th event and tends to occur pretty regularly throughout the year. It is very much a ‘country living’ thing and I wonder if it harks back to prehistory when early man used fire for cooking, warmth and safety.
Nowadays it’s used to burn rubbish, often garden rubbish which, as you can imagine, smokes and smolders profusely. Not good when you are trying to get the weekly wash dried and ironed for Monday, nor if you want to open your house windows to let in some fresh air.
In many urban or suburban areas the lighting of fires is controlled by by-laws so as not to be a nuisance, but out in the sticks that rule doesn’t apply in practice. And if you happen to live in an open area rather than in a village or hamlet, you will find that smoke from a fire can travel a considerable distance. And depending on what is being burnt the smell can range from merely smokey to highly unpleasant (ever smelled a muck heap on fire?)
Of course, you can always get your own back. Wait for the wind to change direction, then light a fire of your own. It can be very satisfying to spend a day feeding a fire and gazing into the flames. Perhaps there’s something of prehistoric man in all of us.