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Firewood … part 2

June 12, 2012

Now my sister and I side by side, walking along the flotsam and jetsam left by the tide earlier in the day.  Increasing speed, running hither and thither where the pickings were abundant; selecting a favoured piece maybe, a pretty shade of duck egg blue washed by the sea, or sculpted like a bird or sea creature.  Drift wood was not always a piece of wreckage sometimes it was as twisted root or branch that had been tossed about in the tide,  bleached and washed by the sun and the sea, then draped with seaweed and attached with barnacles we would hold it up to the fading light swing in the air to try and give it life … but we are looking for long -burn –ability unfortunately this little trinket would burn in a flash and not worth the effort and sadly it was kicked aside with the cuttlefish bones and dead jelly fish.

Soon they found a rather larger plank that might do but it was too large to carry –unless we can break it as my father might have done with a mighty jump upon a weakened joint. We would try and take flying leaps on the plank that we managed to prop up against a huge tree trunk – we failed, fearing we had wasted valuable time we hurried a bit more to recoup our losses.  It was not long before we would find another childish delight it may only be a plastic bucket, a small wreck or tangled fishing nets it doesn’t take much to tease our imagination.  We spy a disembowelled bird,  a vivid reminder that we are not the only scavengers about that afternoon.   We didn’t notice the fading light and the waves lapping ever closer.

Just above the water’ edge is a sea wall made to protect the salt flats that had once dominated the area; it had been broken through by the continued wind and tide.  Water was beginning to flood across our path ahead it was rushing through and would soon be a raging torrent.

The crying sea-gulls warned the little interlopers that their time was up.  We gather up our bags and fill them to capacity; looking more closely, kicking aside the sea weed we would find small pieces of timber that would fill the corners of the bags.  Although still damp from the tide they would soon dry when placed close to the grate and ideal to use in the morning when smaller pieces are required for a quick flame.

Today we were lucky; with the seagull’s timely call and the previous generous tide we could be pleased with our gatherings. We, little hunters just needed to retrace our steps over the shingle back to the sea wall and look out for the lighted lamp that my father would have placed on the window ledge.

Safe from the tide now, the fading light- still made difficult to find the path. We pulled any pieces of wood we could not carry beyond the tide mark for another day.  The dead bird would be fodder for the carrion crows or washed out on the next tide. We staggered with our bags between the hummocks of sedge, dried and brutal swords stabbing at our coats as we hurried past.  We found our way along the lane and down the track where we lived and our unlit gangplank had to be negotiated carefully it was narrow with no handrail and inclined to be slippery and most fearsome was the gap between the boat and the bank.

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