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We Didn't Start the Fire

Actually, We Did

By Bekah MahoneyPublished 3 years ago 3 min read

How fortuitous that this "(No) Regrets" writing prompt came when it did since one of my more embarrassing moments occurred just yesterday.

Sunday, April 25th lived up to its name as the Perfect Date: not too hot, and not too cold - a phenomenon this time of year here in Florida. Plus, my roommate finally had a day off (I hadn't seen her in 3 days) so we decided to take advantage of the sunny weather by putting our green thumbs to good use in the backyard.

We ventured out to Home Depot to pick up some new plants, pots, and potting soil before getting started. Now, a little about where we live (trust me, it's relevant): our house is a one-story townhouse within a 6-unit building, and our little postage-stamp backyard is overshadowed by very large trees on neighboring properties.

The first task of any yard-work day at our house is to gather the little gifts scattered on our lawn left as a courtesy by the aforementioned trees: leaves. Now, we could bag the leaves once they're collected, but sometimes we like to burn them instead. Why? Beats me. We had constructed a lovely little fire pit some months ago that we have used for this purpose on a number of occasions. As you may have guessed, yesterday was a burning-leaves day, not a bagging day.

While I began by sweeping the leaves off of the patio, my roommate got a fire going and raked the leaves in the yard adding them to the burn pile. If you've ever burnt leaves before, you know how much smoke they can make. Indeed, our little fire produced more smoke than flame. As the smoke billowed high above the rooftops, I watched it and mused, "What if someone sees the smoke and calls the fire department on us?"

"Oh, gosh," my roommate laughed, shaking her head. She probably thought I was paranoid. Well, I won't say I have the gift of foresight but...

Sure, enough. Someone called the fire department.

What alerted us to the unnecessary rescue was the way my dog was barking from inside the house - one of those I-definitely-heard-someone-at-the-front-door barks. My thought was that a neighbor tried to see if everything was okay and, when they didn't get a response, called 911.

After dousing the smoke pile with water from the hose, my roommate sat by the front door to await the firemen. I, however, wishing to avoid confrontation, remained in the backyard to busy myself with repotting a plant. Yet one thing my efforts could not avoid was the sinking feeling of impending doom as I heard the sound of distant sirens growing louder.

My plan of solitarily cowering in my shame also failed when the responding fireman insisted on double-checking the "scene of the crime" despite hearing the explanation from my roommate. Can't say that I blame him.

Being the mature adult that I am, my first thought when I saw the fireman appear in the back door was "Really? They couldn't at least have sent a hot fireman for our trouble?" Hot or not, he very politely informed us that with the exception of a grill, we cannot have any open flames in our area. Turns out we ARE under a city ordinance, a realization that confirmed suspicions I had had when we first constructed the incriminating fire pit. Who'd a thunk?

Needless to say, the whole ordeal proved embarrassing enough that although we didn't incur a fine (whew!), we will certainly never be burning the leaves again! I guess we'll have to find alternative means of roasting future marshmallows...

*Disclaimer: No one was ever in any danger. We monitored our small burn pile the whole time to make sure nothing got out of hand, and sufficiently snuffed it out.


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