I don't think I've ever taken so many pictures of bonfires as I have done since starting my course and going out volunteering this Autumn. They are a staple part of conservation work at this time of the year which is a Real Treat because I love them.
|Magdalen Big Bonfire|
|College Bonfire (it got bigger)|
There is something about a real fire; it draws people, mesmerises them. Perhaps it calls to something ancient and primeval buried deep within us. I love all the vibrant energy in and around the burning logs and the pictures you can see in the flames if you look long enough.
The word bonfire originates from the bone fires the ancient Celts held to burn the bones of animals slaughtered to see the tribes through the winter. In England bonfires are also a compulsory part of Guy Fawkes Night, which is held on 5th November to commemorate the failure of the Catholic Gunpowder Plot which aimed to blow up the Protestant King James I. They were compulsory by an Act of Law until 1859.
Tempting thought it is (because I am fascinated by him), I won't go off on a tangent about Guido Fawkes. Except to draw your attention to his signature, post torture, in case you haven't seen it before. The man withstood two days of torture only to be hung, drawn and quartered at the end of it. You can tell from his signature how badly hurt he was by the time he wrote it and I have always found it a very affecting and poignant thing to look at. It's an eloquent testimony to what he had endured. Fawkes wasn't the ringleader of the plot, that was Robert Catesby, but Catesby eluded capture and was killed in the process without trial and Fawkes was publicly held accountable. James I is said to have admired his fortitude during torture. Sadly not enough to spare his life.
Back to bonfires in general...
Coppicing was Great Fun (if initially chilly). Everyone worked hard and we cleared a reasonable area of the SSSI site we were working in.
|Ayla demonstrating the correct use of loppers|
|Harvey stacking hazel poles ready for use in hedge laying|
|Matthew frightening me with the billhook|
I've also been out with Butterfly Conservation this week working at Magdalen. It has to be one of the most beautiful places to spend a day. I know many of the people involved with this ancient Chalk Downland feel the same - it calls to something in the soul. It's a favourite haunt of the Chalkhill Blue butterfly, so if you're interested, pop along in the summer and you'll see tens of them flitting about on the hillside (alternatively, have a look at this post from back in the summer). The Chalkhills are doing really well at Magdalen (better, in fact, than they are doing nationally, which is Great News).
|Can you think of anywhere more beautiful to spend a few hours working?|
We had two bonfires going, burning all the scrub that was starting to dominate in certain areas.
|Everyone Hard At Work|
|Jayne, who is Reserves Officer and a Mine Of Useful Information, Hard At Work|
|John, the Resident Stag|
|Poles trimmed and stacked, ready to be used for Other Purposes|
|Me! (just to prove I do actually do something...)|
|Bonfire No. 4 of my week|
Pops and Ted continue well. Poppy managed to get her paw stuck under the door at the exact moment M was closing it earlier this week. As a result the pad was cut, poured with blood, and some Extremely Upsetting Wounded Puppy Noises were produced which brought Protective Big Brother Ted running. He was a picture of Absolute Concern, sniffing her anxiously. It was Very Sweet to witness.
That night (doubtless as a result), Poppy was allowed to sleep in his bed by the fire, which is Unheard Of In The History Of Ted (prepare yourselves for the inevitable "ahhhhhh"moment when you see the pics.....)
Not bad considering two weeks ago he was grumbling and snapping at her like she was the worst thing that had ever happened to him. Now the two of them are Inseparable and I think he would really miss her if she wasn't there (as would we).
There has also been Improvement In Blanket Sharing In General. I discovered this when I came downstairs this morning. The three of them were happily sharing the heat of Ted's fire before school....
I'll leave you with another "ahhhhh" moment. This is how I left the dogs this morning.....(and luckily, it is much how I found them when I returned....)
Bit gorgeous, no?
Wishing you all a Merry Weekend, and Hello to Emily, Sasha and Fiona. CT xx