I can’t wait to start a fire.
No, I am not a firebug, just a frustrated country dweller who is ready for an autumn burn, or two, or three.
Before I moved to the country the only fire we had was a fireplace. But we also had central heating, so the fireplace was a bit of novelty for a romantic occasion, or to share with friends who didn’t have fireplaces.
Well, we did have one more fire, a house fire, but that was caused by a faulty dishwasher, and involved saving our dogs in the middle of the night. And a hospital visit, and a vet visit, and a visit to the firies laden with beers, chocolates and dog treats as a thank you.
But I digress.
Now our inside fireplace is a real fire, that is really needed for warmth. It gets cold in country Victoria. Who knew. We thought we were moving north, and that meant warmer, but it was actually up the slopes of the Great Dividing Range, so no, colder. I blame my husband. He is a weather fanatic – he should have known.
Mind you, I also always trusted him when he said “don’t worry about the light, we’ve got plenty of fuel”, until we ran out of fuel on a boat in the shipping lane in Port Phillip Bay. I didn’t trust him after that.
Damn. I have digressed again.
Anyway, the move north also meant we could have outside fires. They are pretty much banned in suburban Melbourne unless you pop a sausage over them and call them a barbecue.
We tried that a few times but the woman next door, who was living in a granny flat with her son and his wife, got a bit anxious.
And there’s not much fun trying to enjoy a lovely outdoor fire when someone is screaming at you through the fence “you’re going to burn us all to ground” interspersed with “we’re all going to die”. Somehow the pleasure diminishes just a tad.
And us calling back, quite calmly, “don’t worry, it’s all under control”, just seemed to enrage her further. I think she was Scottish. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Anyway, my husband and I, well, actually just him, have created three nice piles of sticks and leaves and bark, ready to throw a match on as soon as the authorities give us the green light.
Oddly, they are allowed to do their own burning off already. We drove over a mountain last weekend that was alight with flames and covered in smoke. We were stopped to ask if we intended to do any bushwalking. Then they noticed my 80-year-old mother in the back and accepted we were just off to the pub.
You just hope those burns don’t get out of control. The folk around here call the Department of Sustainability and Environment another name. The Department of Smoke and Embers. A bit rough, although, if you were around Wilson’s Promontory in 2005, maybe not.
Anyway, we have fires ready to go. And a heap more bark and sticks that are making our property look a little messy. And then there are the leaves from our lovely elm and oak trees.
But despite the work in rounding it all up into wheelbarrows or on the trailer, there is nothing more satisfying than sitting back, perhaps with a nice red, wine that is, and watching a fire burn as the sun drops and the trees are enveloped by the night.
Even the dogs seem to understand. They run around madly while we collect the debris and then they sit quietly watching the flames and enjoying the occasional pat.
It’s a magic time that you don’t get if you don’t live in the country. It’s hard work but there is a reward at the end. You don’t need a gym and you don’t need a sleeping tablet. It’s all as nature intended.
So when the fire bans are lifted, perhaps next week, we’ll be the first out there with a box of matches and some old newspaper. And I’ll lift my wine glass, and my husband his stubby, and we’ll clink them together and celebrate a country life.