the smell of wood smoke on the clothes is back

14 Baha 168 B.E. (Baha’i Calendar)
Soundtrack in my head:  Nick Drake, “One Of These Things First”
smell of wood smoke

Tonight I looked outside my bedroom window and saw a familiar orange glow in our backyard that I hadn’t seen in several months.  Yes, it was true–two housemates had brought out the fire pit and had started our first backyard fire of the year. Yes, the smell of wood smoke had returned.

When I first moved to Madison, I was surprised by the fact that it is legal to build fires on one’s own property.  Wood fires were an indulgence that was prohibited due to pollution concerns when I lived in Chicago.  Yet, shortly after I moved into this neighborhood, I remember seeing a huge bonfire on the front lawn of a neighbor two blocks down and thinking to myself, “That can’t be legal.”  But while Madison has air quality concerns of its own, they pale in comparison to the Chicago area.

When we re-started this co-op house a couple of years ago, one of the first purchases we made was a backyard fire pit.  Our house didn’t have very much in savings at the time, but when one of our housemates saw a fire pit on sale for about $100, we knew we couldn’t turn it down.  It’s an odd looking thing–it looks like a cross between a Weber grill and a witches’ kettle, except elevated maybe about three or four inches above the ground. 

smell of wood smoke

I guess it’s a rite of spring like baseball, but a bit more cozy. It was nice to step outside and watch my friends’ faces flicker in the firelight as we talked.  We grilled some brats and wieners. which always taste better grilled.  While it’s not easy to see many stars in this part of Madison, I can make out some of them like the Big and Little Dippers, and it’s more than I what I could usually see in Chicago.  At one point I actually saw a huge shooting star light up the sky. 

I had already partially changed into my pajamas and was wearing my pajama bottoms when I went outside.  They now smell of wood smoke, as does my jacket, so my sheets will be smelling smoky tonight.  Not a bad way to fall asleep…

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