burning season

There’s not a bonfire in sight, but I just inhaled a formerly smoldering piece of something. Yesterday I was mesmerized by a burnt piece of paper suspended in air and held captive by a spider web.

This is post rainy season. I was told there are 2 seasons in Zambia- rainy/hot and cold/dry season. But it’s at least 85* today; I cannot quite bring myself to call that winter. Even though I did put on a cardigan before going into the chill of the morning.

This seems to be a 3rd, formerly unacknowledged, season. Let’s call it burning season.

For the duration of rainy season, households save stuff up. Rubbish pits and piles grow, yard and garden waste builds and fields are harvested. The remainders are left for just this time – when the rains have stopped and the ground is dry. Now, regardless of wind, burning days or permits, people light fires. Lots and lots of fires. Some days I wake up to the scent, some days the sky seems almost overcome with the haze of adjoining blazes and some days I search and search and search for the source of the falling ash without success.

Every once in awhile, I even see the telltale signs of burning rubber (tires).

This is definitely a new season. There are the VERY obvious signs of getting rid of the old, the stuff we store up, things we keep around but don’t need. This is a Wednesday night youth activity / object lesson. The standard “everyone take something you don’t need to carry and let’s set it on fire in an attempt to both cast off our burdens and appease our pyromaniac tendencies” night. Except it’s not actually a lesson. It’s just life. It’s just another piece of the earth rotating around the sun. And the more I think about it the more it seems applicable to my life. (Except I could live without the actual burning pollution, watering eyes, smoke inhalation, etc- they’re no joke.)

I’m a hanger-oner. In some ways, it’s a generational thing. But I don’t throw stuff out easily. I don’t move past friendships/attachments to people quickly. I see value in a lot of things people would disagree with me on. I had a napkin with two words and some names on it framed. An index card addition to a present has traveled with me MANY miles and remains on my wall even in Zambia. I have never in my life “loved something so I let it go.” That’s not really how I roll.

I tend to stick with the stuff about me that’s good… and bad. ‘Cause that’s what I do; I hang on. 

*insert trite fire phrase here*

It may be trite, but it is also true. This is the season for setting stuff on fire. 

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