This post is an anachronism. Although it is dated to post on September 21, 2008, I wrote it on December 20, 2010, and back dated it. This is intended merely to fill in one of the remaining holes from the period when the hard drive crashed on my old computer.
Along with repair and improvements to the dam, we had the man with the big machines do a little work around the cabin as well. I had wanted some gravel paths put in leading to the porch and around the old fire ring area. I marked what I wanted with orange survey tape and then waited (months!) for the work to get done.
It was worth the wait!
Obviously the man with the big machines had a better vision that I. No only did he give me the paths I wanted, but he pretty much cleared and then covered all of the ground to the east of the cabin with gravel. Gives it a nice, tended look, doesn’t it.
I love this arrangement! Not only does it look tidy (something rare in an Ozark forest), and not only does it make the ground easy to walk on, but it helps build a protective barrier around the cabin should there ever be a ground fire sweeping through the woods. (Never mind that any ground fire we have will likely come from the west — the other side of the cabin.)
What all of the gravel pavement allows me to do is have campfires without anxiety. I’ve always obsessed about losing control of my campfires and then having to call in the volunteer fire brigade. The cabin at the end of the road is very literally at the end of the road. We’re nearly three miles from the nearest pavement, and more than ten miles from the town where the brigade is. Plus, our cabin is closer to our eastern property line, so if a fire got loose here, it could readily go into my neighbor’s property, which stirs a whole host of fresh anxieties in Pablo. (Note to all, including self: I have never had a fire get out of control.)
But not so much anymore. I now have plenty of non-combustible ground surrounding the fire ring. I can have campfires without worrying about . . . everything! We can warm our weiners and make our S’mores and gaze into the flames and even indulge in some mellowing beer or wine, all safely.
One of the things I have been doing around the cabin is collecting all of the deadfall limbs (from the west side) and burning them in the fire ring. I know I’ll never finish this job, but if I can make a dent in all of the combustible material over there, I can reduce the threat of a ground fire getting close to the cabin. (I don’t have gravel pavement over there, but I am building some stone walls — very slowly — that might stop approaching flames.) Having a secure fire ring allows me to burn all of this deadfall much more frequently than I ever would have allowed myself in the past.
(There is one wild card, however. Flike will bring you any stick he finds and want you to throw it for him to fetch. He’s even dragged small trees to me. So far he hasn’t pulled any sticks from the fire ring, and we’re teaching him that this area is completely off limits, but Border Collies are geniuses, and I’m sure he knows there are fetching-sized sticks there.)
This post is an anachronism, as I said above, but so is this photo. We’ve had many fires in that ring since I snapped this shot. The inside of the ring is black with soot and ash, and since we’ve burned odd bits of this and that, there are some screws and nails and fasteners and staples and who-knows-what mixed in. Some day, when a team of archeologists are prowling over this area, they may be surprised at what they find. (And wait until they see what they find at the base of the retaining wall in front of the cabin!)