My favorite joke about the place I live in is that I always say: “They don’t call this the rainforest for nothing, you know”, meaning to jest on the subject of how much it rains down here. Well, it’s generally true.
The inherent problem with this constant downpour is that it encourages vegetable growth to almost unbelievable levels; i.e. a blade of grass, cut so close to the ground that you might as well be shaving it, can grow back ten inches overnight. It’s a very impressive and maddening process. Bushes practically grow in front of your very eyes. It also generates a lot of organic waste, as trees are constantly renewing their leaves and dropping the old ones to the ground.
Until a dry spell happens to come along…
All this luxuriant jungle can become utterly dry in just two weeks time. Which has happened now. This means trouble for me. Okay, okay, I know I’m constantly complaining about rain never stopping down here… but this is worrisome. The jungle has been growing incessantly for the better part of the last two years, accumulating an incredible mass of dead leaves, deadwood and shrubbery that doesn’t live long during the dry season. All of this is just proper kindling stuff for a forest fire and I’m keeping a worried eye on the luscious bunch of trees that’s sitting just thirty feet away from my backyard fence.
You’d be thinking that I’d be glad for some time without rain, go somewhere else and enjoy a sunny day… but this means that during the last two weeks I’ve been busy at work, clearing the firebreak lanes that I have built through the jungle for the past 15 years. They require constant maintenance, including raking dry leaves into orderly piles and chopping about 4 or 5 tons of deadwood, making sure all this stuff is on the right side of the firebreak.
Sometimes, even small preventive fires must be made to clear these areas. A firebreak lane must be completely free of flammable things like branches and such, and it must be at least 10 feet wide (in some spots, depending of the surrounding vegetation, a firebreak must be from 30 to 40 feet wide, or it’s all for naught) … and in many cases, about three or four miles long. It’s one hell of a job, but it’s one I must perform, lest I find myself boxed in by four walls of fire… And, as you can imagine, I’m just feeling bushed with just thinking about it while writing.
Now, if you excuse me, I think I’m going to lie myself down for a while…
P.S. As I’m hitting the “Publish” button for this post, I’m hearing the faraway sound of grassfire coming. Its crackling, unmistakable sound is heading this way, and it’s just four miles away. I calculate the blazes will be hitting my back yard in another couple days. We’ll see then if I did my work well.