By: Blonde Two
I love making fires (you may have noticed) and have a theory that women are actually better at it than men because while their cavemen were out hunting MacElkBurgers and Kentucky fried Mammoth, they would have been the ones left in the cave shivering and trying to ward off predators.
You can’t light fires on Dartmoor for very good reasons; Which is why, as soon as I get to Norm’s farm, I get overwhelming urges to burn things. This usually works out well because a) There is lots of stuff that needs burning, and b) Norm is even more of a pyromaniac than I am!
You know how it is sometimes nice to go and sit on your favourite bench with a flask of coffee (definitely not hot blackcurrant B1). Well here, if the bench is not where you want it to be, you get to take it with you. Norm and I loaded bench, flask, cake and dog onto the ATV/trailer and set off down to “Hare Creek” for a picnic. While we were there, we got talking about clearing the area around the creek and planting the native bush that Aunty always planned to put in there.
The two culprits that needed clearing were giant gorse (not a botanical name but it makes the Dartmoor stuff look hobbit-like) and Toe Toe (Toi Toi) which looks a lot like and may even be Pampas Grass. Both of these are a lot of a nuisance around these parts and have to be dealt with fiercely – which was good news for me because it meant more burning. I have always wondered what the experience of swailing which gorse burning is called on Dartmoor is like, now I have more idea.
Before we started incineration, we made a lot of noise and did some banging to make sure that any animals were out of the way. Toi Toi is incredible stuff and I managed to light several of the 25 or so stacks with just one match. We spent a very fun morning building “Burn Bridges” so that the flames would run easily from one stack to another. Where the fire caught the gorse as well, it was like a firework display so you had to be quite quick on your feet and be prepared to roll under the fence if necessary. As well as being fire-makers, we also had the rather thrilling experience of being rain-makers. The ground around the burning and the centre of the Toi Toi were very wet and lots of steam rose and then cooled to gentle rain.
The next task will be to find some tiny native trees with lovely names such as “Five Finger”, “Lancewood”, Ponga and “Kowhai” (coe-fie) and plant them by the creek. Within two years, these trees should be nearly my height and starting to look like native bush. Within four, there will be Tui’s and Fantails playing and a lovely shelter for the wild animals.
I am not sure if Norm has a name planned for this new bush area but I am going to christen in “Blonde Bush” which will probably always make me smile when I come back to visit it!