When the Smoke Clears

Yule Love It rhubarb goes to market.
Assumptions can be hazardous. For instance, while uprooting a huge, diseased lavender plant from the field, the voice of common sense whispered my name.  “Iris, why not burn them in the ground?”
Sure would save hours of grunt work, I thought. And a burn would nourish the soil and exterminate ticks.
           Enthused, I stood erect and posed the question to Mary Ellen, my fellow farmhand.
           “Sounds good to me,” she said.  “That way the stems won’t scratch our arms.”
           In no time, we had the weed cloth pulled up, bagged, and piled at the driveway for trash day. It isn’t often the wind decides to rest on our fair hills, so I suggested we begin the burn.
           “Do you have a permit?” asked my prudent, law-abiding friend.
           In twenty-eight years of bonfires and burning woodpiles, my husband and I had never thought about that technicality. However, setting fire to an open field in close proximity to our lot line presented a scenario that demanded approval from the authorities.
“I’ll call the township immediately.”
They directed me to the fire station. Nice folk. There’s no fee for the permit.
“You need to renew this each year,” the officer said.
“Do I truly need this paper to roast marshmallows in my backyard?”
She smiled and nodded.
“Be advised, our neighbor will call when he sees smoke,” I said.
“No problem. Just know we’ll have to send out a truck.”
Mary Ellen and I waited a week for the perfect morning. We began the burn at 9:30 a.m., keeping the fire to a 5X5X3 foot dimension per the “Shall” list on the Burn Permit. The easterly wind picked up. I hosed down the flames.  
“I’m going to call the fire department,” my neighbor hollered.
Without fanfare, the truck pulled up. My heart palpitated.
Rob introduced himself. “Don’t worry, Mrs. Underwood. You have the flames under control. Call us if you have any trouble.”
That night at dinner my husband asked again if I thought I’d planted too much lavender. I understand. The past two summers, my reluctant lavender farmer has cleared hundreds of shrubs from the valley. He’s a much happier man with more grass to mow. 
It took seven years to build our three beautiful fields. We’re now mid-way our five-year restoration plan to return our property to turf and native grasses. That means we wait patiently for calm days and have hoses and shovels handy.
Meanwhile, we harvest rhubarb and asparagus. I recall the tribulations, joy, and fulfillment of realizing the dream of growing a lavender farm—and the remarkable people I’ve met, the likes of herbalist Jim McDonald. He taught my guests and me the most useful lesson of using the plantain in our lawns and gardens for bug bites and stings.
Dear Reader, the burn permit ushers in a new season. I don’t assume to know its nature or name. That would be hazardous to the natural flow of life.
Perhaps I’ll see it when the smoke clears.

Note: The submission deadline for Yule Love It’s Annual Poetry Contest is midnight Monday, June 5. Please visit the Poetry Contest link for guidelines.