FROM KINDLING TO COALS

What would camping be without a braai fire? The early evenings in a campsite spawn a number of fires in various stages of completion, and the air is soon filled with the aroma of burning wood / charcoal / cooking meat. Faces are lit up by the flames, laughter abounds … later some fires are damped down as people turn in for the night, while more wood is added to others to fuel an evening of shared stories.

All begin with something small, perhaps some kindling.

This brings with it the anticipation later of coals just ready for cooking.

Sometimes, campfires also serve the purpose of thawing a beer left in the freezer for too long!

There is something magical about sitting outside in the dark, replete after a fine meal, watching the flames licking round a log and the glow of the embers in the dark.

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A COMMUNITY PULLS TOGETHER

A strong Berg wind has blown today, shaking trees, creating eddies of dry leaves on the ground – and fanning a veld fire, funnelling the thick smoke down into the valley to smother our town.

The smoke grew thicker as the wind strengthened and the fire spread across the hills, threatening the hospital, a retirement centre and other buildings. A local school evacuated their scholars when the fire came too close.

It does not take long for a fire to eat its way through tinder dry grass and drought-stricken vegetation when there is a strong wind to egg it on. In no time at all the flames crossed the disused railway line and the smoke billowed upward.

The extent of the fire and the smoke attracted dozens of onlookers – we haven’t experienced such a veld fire so close at hand for a season or so.

Even though all the municipal fire trucks had been fully deployed they couldn’t fill the gaps. This is where the community pulled together. The university bowser came to assist.

Other assistance came from schools, the army base, a neighbouring municipality and even a nearby game reserve.

So much water has been used to fight a blaze when there is already so little to spare.

FIERY SUNSET

A veld fire burned at the top of the hill behind where we live – an all too common feature when the grass becomes tinder dry as a result of a combination of drought and winter.

Small flames creating a lot of smoke

Flames are whipped by the wind

Smoke soon filled the valley

The sunset was all the more spectacular as a result

Leaving a glowing sky in its wake