By Hallie Bandy
I love creating great memories for my kids, though I’ve realized over the years my intentional efforts at priceless moments are often overlooked, while the true memories are events I never would have planned.
We bought our farmette in the spring. The kids were little, and we spent the majority of the long, hot Kentucky summer renovating the house.
My husband kept reminding me, there was land to clear. Seemed he couldn’t wait. He had a new chainsaw. The possibilities were endless.
We wrapped up the big projects by the time the kids started school mid-August. Then, it was time to clear some wooded area. We hired one of his college students to help.
In the cool of the early morning, with the manly hum of the chainsaw, they were undaunted. They began sawing down the dead trees and started a fire to burn the wood. By late morning, the heat and humidity began to get the best of them. Still determined, my husband came up with what he thought was a brilliant idea—eliminate the hauling and dragging. Cut the trees so they fall directly into the fire.
That afternoon, when I went outside to wait for my kids to get off the bus, there was a lovely area of cleared land… and plumes of flame and smoke billowing from a two-story pile of brush at the edge of the woods. As I stood there, someone pulled into the drive and introduced himself as the local Volunteer Fire Marshall. “I’ve got a truck on the way,” he informed me.
I did not have a chance to ask who had called for a fire truck before the school bus arrived, delivering my children from their first day of school in the new town.
As the school bus drove away, a fire truck arrived.
“We just got training last week on how to put out brush fires,” the firemen told my husband. “We got it taken care of, sir. No charge, this time.”
After dinner, still wondering why the fire department was called to our home, we looked out to see three-foot flames erupting from the pile of ashes those firemen made when they were “taking care of” the brush fire.
A few weeks later, apparently impressed by his father’s fire-making skills, one son made what he initially thought was an unsuccessful attempt to start a fire, using only a magnifying glass on a pile of twigs. He grew tired of what turned out to be a very slow process and abandoned the effort, leaving the magnifying glass behind. Awhile later, we were eating lunch when my daughter looked outside and announced, “The woods are on fire!”
And that is why, when he produced his “All About Me” poster for a school assignment, the caption under the “memories” photo – a shot of him sitting, head-in-blackened-hands – read, “It’s kinda discouraging when everyone gets all mad at you for starting a forest fire. It’s not like I committed a crime or anything.” Trouble is, when there is a no-burn order in effect, it is a crime. But let’s keep that between us.