Monday, January 9, 2012

On The Thirteenth Day of Christmas....

Suppose you want to have a bonfire party. First, you must find something to burn. Then, you must have an excuse to burn it. Next you must have food to roast on said bonfire. Finally, you must have a crowd to join in the festivities outlined above.

On Saturday, all of that came true :)

The Treehouse.
You see, Epiphany was at its peak (we opted to create a Thirteenth Night and hold the celebration on Saturday. Ancient celebrations have to bend to modern working calendars…). We had the Decrepit-Falling-to-Bits-And-Beyond-Hope-Of-Repair Treehouse that needed to be destroyed before some child fell through the rotting boards. And we had lots of food ready to be put in a stew.

Destruction + Fire + Food?


The Strength.
Before we knew it, people of all ages began flooding our backyard (we heard it went upwards of 70), armed to the teeth with sledgehammers, bushknives, axes, ropes, leather gloves, saws, and toolbelts, ready for action. After some folded-armed deliberation (no doubt discussing air speed, tree branch angles, leverage principles, rotten wood strength and other fine details), they hooked a rope around the struts, strategically employed all the high-energy youngsters (well-anchored by more seasoned individuals) and then Heave! Ho! Heave! Crash!!

The Demolition
Within seconds, they were scrambling on top of it, like ants to crumbs. I must say, I’ve never seen quite such an enthusiastic race by grown men to smash to bits the dangerous construction. Before long, a huge tepee of wood was standing, built around our Christmas tree and well-stoked by enthusiastic donations of burnable items by our neighbors. Add a liberal dousing of kerosene and whoosh! We had our own (rather enlarged) version of the traditional Burning Yule Log.

The Very Cool Conclusion
Success! As I watched the flames lick skywards and sparking ash float towards our house, I found myself rather belatedly grateful that our water tank was currently gorged with the gift of rainy season. Of course, it also helped that half the volunteer fire department were standing around the inferno, grinning rather giddily to themselves with their success.

Obliteration makes people hungry, and it didn’t take long before the piles of potluck food gave way to empty bowls and crumpled napkins (and desperate measures—such as when we ran out of spoons and started handing people measuring spoons. Sorry—you’ll have to use the teaspoon…).Although marshmallows aren’t currently in stock at the store, various individuals contributed their coveted bags to the post-destruction roasting party. It took several hours before the massive conflagration could be approached voluntarily (several marshmallow-starved individuals tried constructing roasting shields to protect themselves from the heat), but the eventual treats were worth it.

Eventually, as what used to be the tree house became a smoldering pile of embers and the inevitable drizzle started to leak from the clouds, roasting sticks and hammers were packed into bilums (string bags) and our backyard grew quiet with the silence that follows annihilation.

With a sigh, my housemates and I tucked our leftover vegetables into tinfoil and laid them in the ashes to cook overnight.

And that was the end of the Christmas season at Ukarumpa.