Nobody but a fool would
wish for a forest fire
if he lived in a
forest of fuel.
of a wildfire near here
yesterday, I got to do something
other than sit in my office typing
stories for a change. I
got to carve.
emotions, sensibilities, and
a different sense of time. I had
been missing them while I
typed, in my body
and my mind.
feelings and forms. Dancing
curvatures into being.
edited old stories
about old experiences and
wrote new stories about old
experiences, I yearned to write
about new experiences
and to have them.
I did other things,
of course, and revisiting
all those stories was new
experience, of course. I hope
they express some of that
sense of immediacy.
of those stories
are about carving and
writing but it’s not the same.
That’s not the immediacy
I’d been yearning for.
the fire, I got to carve
and write about both carving
and the fire, all in
Here’s how it happened.
Molly the Airedale at
7 o’clock and we came downstairs.
Not long after that, I started wondering
why the coffee machine was taking so
long to warm up. Sure enough,
when the fridge light didn’t
come on I knew. Our
I called Hydro, she
interrupted me at “Quadra”.
High wind had knocked a tree over
on the line and a fire had started.
That’s all she knew by then,
other than that a crew
was on the way.
That told me two things.
love wind, you know.
Especially when it’s hot. We
were in a hot spell and it blew
all night, so this fire could
the line runs right
along our only road
‘out’, so we were
Dalyce called to tell me
just what I’d just heard.
We reminded each other to
head for the salt if things got
bad and wait for a boat
to pick us up.
Then Jerry called
with the fire’s location, which
was farther downwind than we’d
feared. It was a long way
upwind to here.
would be out for
hours or days, so I could
either fire up the generator
and keep writing or do
I did something else.
I fixed tools
and put things in their
places for a while, then split
and stacked firewood for an hour,
scissored Molly’s hair til she tired
of it, and it was not yet noon
when my first wish
I returned to
a big Cedar Flower sculpture
and the dancing was divine!
sculpting is all about for me.
To consciously carve away stone
or wood, developing curvatures,
and allowing those curvatures
to become part of me.
On another level,
almost in another dimension,
I engaged so fully in the dance that day
that I lost myself in the work and my
experience of doing it was primal
and profound. It was ‘in
the meat’, as I like
I feel my
body feeling the
form, I feel the form
forming my body and it
is part of me. Scratching hard,
scratching easy, scratching slightly
or lightly or hardly even scratching.
Scratching away wood, sandpaper
in hand, and the dust blows
away in the wind.
The result of
this activity depends on
many things, including where, how,
how hard, and how often I stroke the wood.
Curvature evolves as my body moves over the
form, and my motions evolve with the curvature.
While the wildfire raged and the power was out
and I couldn’t do anything about either of those
things, a sculpture and I formed each other
and I got to Listen to the Wind all day.
Hour after hour as we danced like
that, cedar, sandpaper and I.
I was ecstatic!
Dalyce called back
to say they were mopping up the fire,
so I turned on a light to tell me when the power
was back on and returned to the Cedar. The light
came on after a while, so I turned it back off.
An hour or two later when I needed it,
I turned it back on again and
worked until dark.
carve without slighting other
work would not have been possible
without the fire, and my first wish
came true because of it.
My second wish was getting
to write this story. I realized while carving yester-
day that the fire might be good to write about,
so when Molly and I came to work this
morning that’s exactly what we
did. I hope you like it.
31 July 2016
28 August 2016
There was a fire a hundred
yards from here this morning. A little-
used outhouse caught fire during the night
and neighbours began arriving by 8 AM when
the outhouse had already collapsed into its hole,
the fire had spread meters into the forest, and
flames were climbing the trunks of nearby
trees. We brought tools and piss-cans
(backpack jerrycan water pumps).
One low-pressure garden hose
and several piss-cans
were already at
Brent had almost enough
firehose to reach from his place and
Dalyce and Len brought another, his pump
started on the 3rd pull, and there was enough
water in his well to do it. The fire was out and
mostly cool in 45 minutes, it started to rain and
we relaxed. We learned later that the cause was
a careless smoker: cigarettes down outhouses
are not a good thing. They are full of richly
combustible organic material (that’s why
we dig them), it was dry, had good
drainage, was surrounded by
dry fluffy duff and over-
hung with conifer
But like I said
in the beginning, nobody
but a fool would wish for a wildfire
where there is no fire protection beyond
what a few scattered neighbours can
provide. We were a few minutes
Here I am with my
friends and much taller neighbours
Don Davis and Paul Doherty after the fire was
out and everything we could find was cool to
the touch. Photo by Lillith Cleasby.
Edited February 2021