Well, I didn’t quite get the date right for the solstice (sometimes the weather just doesn’t want to play along – well, sometimes it just wants to rain and rain and rain a bit more in case you haven’t had enough, you know, rain). But, probably influenced by Moominland Midwinter,
we did get a midwinter fire going. And people came from far and wide –
hmm, check that, two people came from the next village… and it wasn’t really a midwinter celebration anyway; it was non-compostable rubbish disposal. But we did have baked potatoes.
I have a small window of opportunity when it comes to bonfires, and an awful lot of stuff that inevitably needs burning. The bulbs are coming up in January, and from then on there isn’t a cat in hell’s chance – or a Moomin’s chance in midwinter – of having a fire without causing a lot of damage. As it turned out, I’d misjudged the bulbs. It’s been a bit milder than I anticipated, and there are rather too many daffs materialising. But we protected what we could with anything to hand, ranging from broken terracotta pots, of which I seem to have many, to dustbin lids and lumps of polystyrene (the latter being mostly designed to stop us from treading on things):
P’s original estimate of ‘there’s not that much stuff to burn’ proved – er, let’s just say somewhat over-optimistic. There was plenty to burn, under all the ash brash, including a large privet bush (intact), an overgrown New Zealand hebe (intact), an enormous clethra (you guessed it) and a vast quantity of rather wet leaves and well, stuff. Where does it all come from? I mean, I know where the privet, the hebe and the clethra come from, but what about all the other detritus? I think it’s a self-perpetuating bonfire pile, and it self-generates. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.
So in the fine northern tradition of setting fire to things in the depths of winter, we went for it.
And yes, there are some crocosmia in there. I seized the chance to add some of the wretched things as I cleared a little of the Rosa rugosa hedging – it won’t make any difference, I’ll still have drifts next year. It’s just as well I like crocosmia, is all I can say, since I’d need to apply and reapply something stronger than Agent Orange to get rid of them.
Anyway, it’s just struck me that I haven’t missed a vital date. Most of the Scottish fire festivals take place from Hogmanay on, whether it’s the Burning of the Clavie in Burghead (mid January), the Fireball in Stonehaven (Hogmanay) or that extraordinary creation, Up-Helly-Aa in Shetland (later in January). Then there’s the Allendale Tar Bar’l ceremony (fancy running around with a flaming barrel of tar on your back? no?) in Northumberland; that’s at New Year too. So my timing wasn’t out after all; I’m just striking a blow for a separate Welsh tradition.
(That’s the hebe going up.)
So now the sun can come back.
Please will the sun come back?
and, of course,
HAPPY NEW YEAR / BLWYDDYN NEWYDD DDA