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  • Writer's pictureAlex Subrizi

April fires

Updated: Aug 5, 2022

The cuttings from 71 olive trees make for quite a woodpile. Olive wood and in particular olive leaves and buds are extremely flammable; keeping such piles around into the dry season is not recommended. The options are two: chip it or, before the rains stop and the weather gets too hot, burn it. Like most local growers, we opt for the burn, in part for the large quantity of fertilizing ash it provides. Our first burn, photographed above, was at night; generally not advisable but it was a windless evening and we had three people and two fat hoses on hand. Our second burn, of a slightly larger pile (cuttings from about 40% of the aforementioned 71 trees), took place early this morning.

I made a hand-held time-lapse video, posted below, of the conflagration’s first eight or so minutes…

…after which my arms got too achy and I changed position to shoot a couple more minutes in time-lapse from another vantage point using a wider lens:

The Chaplin-like figure seen scurrying about is named Vasile: originally my dad’s carer (now my mom’s) and a very “earth-wise” man besides. He chops all our firewood and knows his way around kindling and blazes, fireplace-size and up.

We’ve got enough cuttings left on the ground (plus branches to trim on about a dozen road-side trees) to form a third pile which we’ll either chip or burn, depending on wind and rainfall between now and the end of April. Our first guests are due to arrive on April 23rd. Maybe they’ll get to watch 😲

Postscript 25 July: wildfires throughout southern Europe, some as close as 100km to Poggiosole, have put the above post in a rather grim perspective.

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