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bonfire

Bonfire Blue

bonfire
bonfire

Bonfire Blue

I liked this one too, just as it grew dark.

What is autumn without at least one bonfire? The crisp air nearly asks for the sharp scent of burning wood and the crackling of kindling in the cold night air, the sparks rushing upward to disappear just overhead. Perhaps with bonfires included in these autumn celebrations we are expressing that primordial fear of the coming darkness, the long nights growing longer, and the rituals of our ancestors that held the night at bay until it began growing longer again.

“Bonfire” is derived, in short, from “bone fire”, an annual ritual of Celtic peoples who burned animal bones at Samhain to ward off evil spirits, and of later European people who burned the oldest bones in crowded churchyards or cemeteries to allow space for new interrments and to ensure that those disinterred would not haunt them at All Hallow’s Eve, when uneasy spirits were known to come calling.

This particular bonfire burned only scrap lumber, wooden pallets and downed trees at the Nightwalk on the Panhandle Trail.

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Warm

bonfire flames
bonfire flames

Heat

The bonfire at the weekend’s Halloween trail walk was built from wooden pallets which created a criss-cross pattern as they burned down, like little windows of warmth for the flames to escape.

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Bonfire at Twilight

photo of people around bonfire at twilight

Bonfire at Twilight

As I arrived at twilight, the group was gathered around the bonfire as the temperature dropped again toward the single digits. Who could say that winter has no color as even the heavy overcast sky colored with the shades of a winter evening and the snow reflected, catching flashes of firelight here and there?

This was a good old-fashioned skate outdoors, though I never did put my skates on—too busy taking photos and talking.

The place is Wingfield Pines in Upper St. Clair, a conservation area owned by the Allegheny Land Trust that has been used for farming, mining, a health club and a golf course in this century alone. Now it’s been allowed to rest and enjoy just being there with the gentler human uses of hiking and dog-walking and the occasional skate, not to mention that big old AMD remediation project, but the land is forgiving.

The old golf ponds freeze solid in weather consistently this cold, and the terrain is perfect for cross-country skiing. Read about Wingfield Pines on the Allegheny Land Trust website.


Sparks

Sparks

Sparks

What is autumn without at least one bonfire? The crisp air nearly asks for the sharp scent of burning wood and the crackling of kindling in the cold night air, the sparks rushing upward to disappear just overhead. Perhaps with bonfires included in these autumn celebrations we are expressing that primordial fear of the coming darkness, the long nights growing longer, and the rituals of our ancestors that held the night at bay until it began growing longer again.

“Bonfire” is derived, in short, from “bone fire”, an annual ritual of Celtic peoples who burned animal bones at Samhain to ward off evil spirits, and of later European people who burned the oldest bones in crowded churchyards or cemeteries to allow space for new interrments and to ensure that those disinterred would not haunt them at All Hallow’s Eve, when uneasy spirits were known to come calling.

This particular bonfire burned only scrap lumber, wooden pallets and downed trees at the Nightwalk on the Panhandle Trail.