Monday, 14 November 2011

The Burn

At 25141 words I'm just ahead of my National Novel Writing Month word count target, so here I am, as promised, with no excuses to make (yet).

Our house is being held to ransom by a couple of particularly stubborn molars (or particularly tough gums), so all bets are off on what may be achieved in the coming week.

Pickle and I went on a brief foray into the city (for winter boots - for her - the price of which made me sweat a little) and were confronted by this creature:

Pickle was, understandably, uncertain, but then decided she loved her and produced some fine moos for the good people of Exeter to enjoy. She stands outside The Real Food Store, a community owned food shop, bakery and cafe. I can heartily recommend it if you're near. It is the only time strangers have joined in with our whispered chorus of 'If you're happy and you know it, touch your nose'!

After the horror that was Hallowe'en, I was nervous about taking Pickle to the Sticklepath Fireshow. Every year there's a crowd of thousands and the surreal play which precedes the fireworks is about half an hour and even less comprehensible to a toddler than to the rest of us. Four generations of our family went in the end and we all had a good time, despite Great Granny scuttling off to get lost in the crowd and Great Grandpa struggling to move at all over the lumpy ground and Pickle being startled awake by the ambulance siren in the safety bit before it had even started.

As ever, the set was impressive. The two skeletons to the left were crafted by that most handsome of woodworkers, Thomas Hine and if you click on the Fireshow link above, the big dragon head was also his.

Hundreds of volunteers make the whole spectacle happen and the work of each of them was rather lost on our girl, happily snuggled in her ear defenders (one of our best buys ever), but she did wake for the fireworks - the best display I've ever seen, which I won't demean with our dodgy photos.

And she was quite mesmerised by the burn. Great Granny couldn't believe people had worked so hard to create such a huge and intricate structure, then those same people would merrily set light to the whole thing and start again for the next year.

As we watched each new piece collapse, we talked about how rare an opportunity it is to see a fire on this scale, and particularly to watch a building burn.

Fire is an energy much feared in my western/British/English culture, or so it seems to be in the main. Anger is never welcome; there is no admittance of a healthy way to express anger. Sometimes we can justify it, but never welcome it. Sex is something that is mostly discussed within the safety of comedy, or else it furnishes us with many of our swear words.

When I first became pregnant I was shocked by the fierceness which came along with the tenderness. I hadn't experienced it until a crowd surged in my direction and I locked my arms in front of my belly, ready to take them all on! With most people I never mentioned this new intensity; it is the opposite of what pregnant women and new mums 'should' be feeling. But the truth, now as much as then, is that, to protect my daughter, I am capable of things I could not later justify. This is a fire which will not go out.

And so to a whole group of people desperately trying to keep their fire alight. I can recommend no blog higher than The Hermitage and in particular this latest post on travelers. Do please take a look. The two little films are each haunting in different ways and Rima's artwork is worth a visit in itself.

I love living where I do. You've probably gathered that by now, if you've been here before. I spent a few years being nomadic, but really I'm a roots person. And as a rooted person, I am grateful to all the traveling people for adding their difference to my world. It is perhaps a way of life less afraid of fire and passion than the one around me.

I hope we can learn.

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