since the tree is on fire

Since the house is on fire, let us warm ourselves.- Italian Proverb


I’ve done that.  Been warmed by a fire that was not supposed to be.  One that was supposed to clear weeds in a tall palm tree that my then-husband never got around to pruning.  Naw, they weren’t weeds, but they looked like them, ok.  Horrid, twining, drooping grey branch-things that hung down from the palm leaves. Hideous.  They had to go.

Since we didn’t have a ladder that’d reach high enough, but some of the branches hung low enough for me to touch on my tiptoes, I fished a lighter out from the junk drawer, and with one flick started a slow crackling fire.  In mere seconds the fire fingered its way up the branch to the top where it fwooomped and made my heart clatter.

I realized then that the tree was about 15 feet max from the house and –oh, my–the window blinds were curling in the heat.  I heard thuds at my side, and looked down to see that two bare pigeons with smoking skin were at my feet. I’d totally forgotten that birdies lived in the tree.

We lived on a busy highway, and people could see the fire from far away–in no time a firetruck arrived on the scene and hosed it down.

I didn’t know palm trees burned so hot.

I dreamt once that my house burned down.  My reaction was muted; seems I ought to have felt despair at all I’d lost.  Or desperation to find anything of worth among the ruins, but I was aloof.  As far as I know, I didn’t light that fire.  Psychologically, of course I did.  And it was time to move on, to let go.

There’s a time for planting, and a time for burning the fields (here in Imperial Valley, at least.) Air quality notwithstanding, I’m all for field-burning.  I have been advised by my beloved that there is, however, never a time for pruning palm trees with fire.


Dorothy L. Sayer

I disagree.
Not all women are tamed by time and trouble.
But they do learn not to light fires they can’t control.


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