The Fire

I was fishing the Fox this last weekend, east branch, and they have a nice plaque next to the river claiming Hemingway fished there, and if you read his “Big Two Hearted River” story, you can certainly make a claim that that is the case.  I caught my first trout of the season (a little 7″ brook trout I promptly released), and appropriately spent evenings reading Gloria Whelan’s fine story The Pathless Woods, which is a children’s book about Hemingway’s summer at Walloon Lake when he was 16 years old.  The book depicted a forest fire, something Hemingway later alludes to in his Two Hearted story, the Seney fire,  a real fire which had happened some time before his character gets off the train in Seney and to this day leaves the country side scarred and ghostly.  All of this was prelude and excellent timing for me to work this week on  my own fire story (which I fictionalized in  my linked stories Seasonal Roads) but will also appear in my upcoming memoir woodfire cookbook.  My fire–known as the Duck Lake Fire– also a real fire of course, happened Memorial Day 2012 and nearly took our home and property here north of Newberry, Michigan.  One of those “boy are we unlucky/BOY are we lucky” stories since it burned all the way around our property, even a bit on our property north of our river, but spared both our home and nearly all our lovely trees.  One of the fire breaks was bulldozed right through our property to our river and we appreciated them clearing trees they considered too close to our home.  If the house hadn’t had a metal roof, they claimed, they wouldn’t have spent the time on what they said would have been a lost cause.  All of this happened this time of the year and once again, it’s dry here.  And ghostly.  The fire had been started by lightning they said, fueled by Jack pine–the biggest fire hazard–4 miles wide and eighteen miles long it raced to Lake Superior and then slowly meandered back south until it reached our river where the fire department at last contained it and mopped it out.

The fire department had arrived at our property one late afternoon and told me to take my son, my dog, what was in my hands–and go….

Ah, I’d better get writing it…