around the backyard fire pit

2 Qawl 165 B.E. (Baha’i Calendar)

Soundtrack in my head:  Love, “Alone Again Or”

I was surprised to learn that the city of Madison allows people to build fires in their backyards–even in the downtown area.  Such a thing would have been unheard of where I was growing up.  Because Madison is a relatively small metropolitan area with relatively low pollution levels, 

When I first heard about this, I was still living in my old co-op house, and I immediately tried to persuade my housemates to put a fire circle in the backyard..  My old co-op has a big garden space in the back that has been largely unused.  But I couldn’t get them too excited.

Living in this neighborhood, I frequently smell wood smoke–more often than I have in other places I’ve lived.  I’ve also seen some rather huge bonfires in people’s back yards and sometimes even front yards.  I’ve looked at some of these fires and said to myself, “This can’t be legal.”

I have a housemate who surfs Craigslist religiously and at one house meeting she presented a proposal to purchase an above-ground fire pit from there.  The price tag was something like $60, and it sounded too good to pass up.  I remember the first time I saw it,  It looked like someone had bred a Weber Grill with a witches’ cauldron.  It was just a little bigger than a grill,  but with short legs.  It had a mesh screen on top, and on the sides it had cut-out holes shaped like stars and crescent moons, with mesh on the inside. 

It was a fairly wam night tonight for November–it was well above freezing–so we decided to give the thing a test run.  For some odd reason, we’ve had a very huge pile of firewood in our backyard along the outside shed.  We gathered a lot of twigs, and pretty soon was able to get it going. It was a pretty decent sized fire.

It felt sort of strange.  We don’t have a very large backyard because of the shed (which actually probably served as a one-car-garage at one point).  The fire pit was placed probably about six feet from the driveway and maybe twelve feet from the back steps.  I kept looking around concerned that we were doing something illegal. 

It didn’t quite have the feel of a campfire in the woods, or a crackling fireplace,  but it was relaxing nevertheless.   We will need to build some benches to sit on–particularly if we decide to have winter fires.  Maybe we’ll have our house meetings out here in the warmer months. 

In any case, it’s a nice community-building device.  It’s an excuse to get together and hang out.

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