Trina Machacek: Wait! Don’t light that fire

Trina Machacek

Trina Machacek

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I have given this story much thought. I thought it might tell of my hard headedness. I thought it might tell of my, “HA! I can do what I want,” side. Then I thought. Who hasn’t done something like it before? But. Yes, a hot “but.”
Tell it for all those who will do something like it in the future. Besides in hindsight, it’s kinda funny, now. Oh, and the ending…
Yesterday, I was out planting some wonderful pink iris clumps that my friend dropped off for me. It was warm and sunny and maybe up in the 70s. Very nice for an early April day. The day before, I cleaned out flower beds getting ready for the new plants.
As I was cleaning and raking and putting old vegetation in my wheelbarrow, there were of course dead weeds that have blown on the lawn where I was working. There are always tumbleweeds and all types of weeds that tumble to and from that need to be dealt with where I live.
So, I picked and raked and crunched stuff to fit in one wheelbarrow load. The load has yet to be taken to the trash trailer. Hey, it’s allll the way across the yard. Tomorrow.
After planting, I took time to just look at my view. I saw that someone to the north, about four or five miles away, was burning weeds. I could tell because there were black and white columns of smoke reaching into the sky. Nothing new in this farming community. It catches your eye though, and in your head, you travel to figure out who is out burning weeds. A true sign of spring. That’s when I began to laugh. Remembering a weed burning experience I had a long, long time ago.
It was a ferocious spring. The wind blew for several days. When it finally quit, it seemed that the dry weeds from every direction had gathered and hung themselves in effigy on my back barbed wire fence. A fence that is 880 feet long. So, with pitchfork in hand, out I went to clear the fence. Well actually only about 300 feet. The rest? Well, I call that part of my place, “down in the junk.”
It's work putting weeds into piles. I find it a game to see just how big of a pile I can make. Fork, pile, smash. Over and over again.
Finally getting to the end, I found a trove of weeds that made the most magnificent mountain of dry weeds and grass. It was a full seven feet tall and about 10 feet around and away from the fence. A distance that looked fine to me, so I thought I would burn those dirty buggers right where they were. The pile was way out, away from the fence that held the drip line we put in last spring to reach a wild rose bush and a couple of new-ish trees.
I came prepared with a long barbecue lighter. Don’t want to get too close to the fire-spewing weeds, you know. They get really hot and burn with all the energy of a fire-burning dragon. I’ll admit I have lost arm hair on past weed burning days.
My husband had been working in our shop, which has a good view of where I had been working. I was leaning on my pitchfork resting and planning my next step, the lighting ceremony. No wind. Good. I gave a few more tosses of weeds and then grabbed the lighter and bent over to strike it when I heard a loud booming voice come across the air, “Wait!! Don’t light that fire. You’re too close to the fence! Waaait.”
Wait? What? I have been working for hours. I am not going to wait. I know what I am doing.
Famous last words before I lit my pile of weeds on fire. Whoosh. Amazing. You can’t imagine how high the flames jumped. And how fast. And how hot. Really hot as I backed away and backed away further. It was so satisfying to see all those stinkin’ weeds go up in smoke. I was proud as punch. Right up until the fire died down. That’s when I noticed the drip line. The sagging melted drip line. Well dang me. How did that happen?
Suffice to say I was not allowed to forget that day. Along with my right to carry any type of fire-creating apparatus any farther than the barbecue, I gave up my honorary spot of the Diamond Valley Volunteer Fire Department. Hey, it could’ve happened to anybody. Couldn’t it?
Trina Machacek lives in Eureka. Her book, “They Call Me Weener,” is available online or email her at for a signed copy.


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