Saturday, September 30, 2006
Sam Stokes the Fire
Here’s a picture of our beach bonfire in August courtesy of Sandy Feet. Pretty abstract, eh? Not bad for a cell phone camera, though. It has become something of a tradition to have a small bonfire on a full moon – the next one is Saturday October 7th.
So I’m ready, thanks to Fred the ex-Alderdude and his old driftwood collection. According to the Farmer’s Almanac this would be the Hunter’s Moon, but I like the Chinese version which calls it the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. I didn’t know this, but it is a huge celebration in China and they eat lots of Moon Cakes.
So I have quite a ritual about making a beach bonfire. No I don’t throw down a huge pile and use a gallon of gasoline. How gauche! You have to do it Indian style but newspapers are OK, and yes matches or a lighter are acceptable. But with the wind blowing 10-20 knots, it all starts with the pit.
So I show up with a shovel and a 5-gallon bucket. The bucket has some newspaper and kindling and is used later for dousing the fire. People think I really lost my marbles but a pit really helps. So I figure out the wind direction, usually honking from the Southeast, and dig a trench in line with the wind. The extra sand goes in a pile on the upwind side as a wind break. The trench is sloped from shallow at the back to very deep at the windward end. So the front is maybe 14-16 inches deep and the sand is piled and another 14-16 inches high.
This allows longer boards and timber to be put in the bonfire because due to the design, the flames actually flow in reverse into the wind (until the wind whips it the other way). Using the trusty shovel, one can then scootch up the lumber into the fire pit as it is consumed.
Ah, the moonrise, and nice small bonfire, a chair, and a cool beverage. You never know, folks might break out the guitars, ukuleles, and fiddle – we had a bazooki there last time, some strange Turkish contraption. Our SOB ukulele band has already learned such famous songs such as ‘Your are my sunshine’ and ‘Shit makes the flowers grow.’