Friday, July 6, 2012

Fires and Sports Day

I was realizing the other day that while the ‘greater burning of Zambia’ is something that I have lived with for the last three years, it’s actually a pretty foreign concept to most people back home, so it might do well to explain it a bit more.

About a month or two into the dry season, the Zambians start to set fire to the now rather dry bush and burn off vast swaths of land. There are several purposes for this. First of all, most of our bush is covered in a tough grass that can grow to be over 6 feet tall. As this dries it becomes a fire hazard itself, but to clear it would very time consuming. The fires are a way to clear the grass and make room for the next years growth. Before they burn, the Zambians harvest what grass they want for thatching, and then they start their (mostly!) controlled fires. A second reason for the fires is the ash makes cheap fertilizer for their garden plots and for the bush in general.

Thirdly, though most people are pretty careful with fire during the dry season, it would not be hard to end up with a pretty devastating wild fire. So people burn fire breaks around their property and along the roads to create a safety zone. Our fire break was finished up last week, but there is still plenty of burning going on around us.

Little bits of black ash are all over and in the air right now—at night you can often see the pink glow on the horizon of another fire. Though you might not see them, there is normally someone keeping some sort of tabs on the fire; it’s very rare to hear of one getting out of control and causing a lot of damage. One of our short termers was a volunteer fire-fighter, and took her awhile to get used to the crackling sound of bush burning!

Tuesday was our sports day, and Mr. T. kept us busy all day. I was the scorer again, so I had my little tent to set up with my laptop in. I also was the one passing out ribbons which sparked an interesting controversy over whether red of blue was supposed to be for first place. Apparently it depends on if you are American or Canadian… Fisher didn’t win this year, but the kids did a good job. I wore my new yellow shirt to support my team, but I must say that there is a reason that I’ve never had a yellow shirt all these years! Not the best color on me... Now that the last of the big events is over, life goes back to normal now-whatever that is!

Only three more weeks…

Bonus picture of my fast growing puppy! Image and video hosting by TinyPic

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate the clarification about the fires! It makes sense to me. With the way the weather patterns have been going in the States, we may want to entertain doing the same thing from time to time. But then there are all those nasty EPA regulations!