To Burn or Not To Burn

It’s crazy to think it’s already April of a new year! The past six months have been a blur for me. My time has been spent doing many of the same things I’ve always done, it’s just been framed in a new setting with a long list of extra house renovation projects. This alteration has thrown some interesting curve balls and time consumption. On the upside, it’s also brought a new chapter of knowledge, experience and satisfaction to my life. I’ll make a comparison to a traditional activity common to this area where I grew up: Spring Burns.

In the farming community where I now live and grew up, there is a big spring clean up process that involves clearing the water irrigation ditches of weeds and debris. If everyone does their part, the first flow of water is more successful and the coverts don’t get completely clogged and blocked. It’s not a small task. For every driveway that crosses a canal or ditch (which includes most of the residences), there is a covert. Additionally, the constant flow of water during the growing season makes an easy life for weeds/grass and thus they grow plentifully and tall along the banks.When the water drains in the fall and the winter comes, a big mess of dry, dead stalks are all that’s left come spring. This is not just an eyesore, it’s a problem for getting water where it needs to go when the growing season comes again. It’s a problem that must addressed, year after year. For most of the world, the solution would be to apply weed killer to the banks through out the year preventing such growth. But those chemicals don’t bode well for farmers and their crops, nor for the end user who doesn’t want chemically contaminated food. So the most efficient and farm friendly way of dealing with this is to set fire to the dead mess. The fire burns quick and hot leaving a black but cleared path. It also eliminates the need to cut or haul away copious amounts of debris. It’s a smoky job and it stinks – literally. As a child I dreaded this process knowing that riding a bike would inevitability lead to riding through several nasty smoke clouds and I hated the look of the charred black areas after the fire was done. As an adult, I hate being the one who has to control and manage the fire and smoke and I still dislike the look after it’s done. But, for all that it’s a great fix to a big problem and the black quickly gives way to new green life, perhaps even enhances it’s appearance.


In life, I find that we often have to tackle big clean up projects.

The past several months have been a big process of spring burns for myself and my family, figuratively speaking. Helping my mom clean up and downsize to an environment more conducive to her and dad’s lifestyle needs has been a big clean up project. In addition, the process of clearing, cleaning and updating the home I grew up in has been a project of comparative size and proportion. But just like the spring burn, the results are worth the effort.

Today I see some of these projects coming full circle:

LaundryBefore LaundryAfter

BathBefore BathAfter

FuseBoxBefore FuseBoxAfter

And time marches on. Some projects see completion, others just beginning and still others are ongoing. Through it all life continues to move ahead. My daughter is now driving – yikes! And my son has been playing up the stage with a lead in his school play and placement in the top 10 of the city spelling bee. I couldn’t be happier as mom.

CidDrives TayAsLewis

When I find myself feeling overwhelmed, I’m going to remember the lesson of the spring burn. Change is hard. Work is hard. The efforts are worth it. Time moves quickly. Taking time to stop and enjoy the flowers while they’re growing is a necessity because as with all things, they don’t last. Here’s to spring cleaning, making way for good things and enjoying the good things I already have.


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