Light Fuse, Run Away

Let me explain my dad. He thinks something is a good idea. He does it. It goes terribly wrong. Terribly, Terribly Wrong.
Like today.
I come home from the gym, and stop for a moment to watch whatever comedy show dad was paused on while trying to find his beloved Law and Order, or whatever it is this time. He's stopped in the act of channel surfing to remove the excess ash from the bottom of the fireplace, a process which requires heavy gloves and the excavation of a large drawer located at the bottom of the furnace. He does this with regularity during the colder months, so I think nothing of it.
I go upstairs, and get changed out of my gym clothes, and into a t-shirt and jeans for the dinner-date I have planned with Erin, when she calls me.
"Harry, look at your backyard." Mistaking her very, very serious tone for the setup of some surprise, (Maybe a host of deer come in time for Christmas!) I tell her hang on, let me get my glasses. She interrupts, saying in a much more serious and leaden tone, "No, Harry, look at your backyard, YOUR BACKYARD IS ON FIRE"
I then run to the window, glasses forgotten, I sprint to the back window to see yes, my backyard is ablaze, flames at least fifteen feet high leap into the air from a portion of the yard that's always been overrun by sticker-bushes and weeds. I run downstairs, swearing and cursing, my dad asking what's wrong. I simply repeat what Erin said, that the backyard was "ON FIRE" and run to find the fire extinguisher.
I hear dad scream "WHAT" which, when he saw the flames, he ran outside to the hose, which of course he had already put away for the season. I run out to find him standing staring at the flames, which at this point have already died down dramatically, the feed of dried leaves having been rapidly depleted, and luckily, this portion of the yard had been somewhat walled off from the rest of it, the rickety wire fencing that held back the bushes probably also saved our house.
Dad's just staring at the now dying flames, still dumbfounded and mumbling about how he thought that area was all green, no dead stuff to light up, and how he's always dumped his ashes there, there must have been a few embers still hot enough.
Meanwhile, I'm still in panic mode, searching for a bucket or that damned extinguisher (turns out the extinguisher we had was lost to the ages) when Dad finally seems to switch back on, and begins to walk around the now fairly faint circle of dying flames, stamping out the last of it with his very expensive wool-lined slippers. Erin has come over by this point, and her wide-eyed shock at having seen the flames in their young prime fades to post-panic laughter, and I join in with her as I get my coat.
As I leave the house, Dad is coming in with, ironically enough, wood to feed his intentional fire. I look at him in the eye, point an accusatory finger at him and say, in seven-eighths seriousness, "DON'T DO THAT AGAIN."
He laughs, and stamping the dirt and bits of ash from his feet, both of us smelling horribly of smoke, and says to me,
"Don't tell your mother."


  1. HOLY SHIT!!!
    Merry Christmas...?

  2. Lesson and a bright side.

    Lesson: Don't dump the ashes in the part of the backyard covered with plants when there are typically pits dug for that kinda thing.

    Bright Side: All those sticker bushes and shit are gone now, right?