Posted by: The Saffa Mom | July 15, 2011

The land has just turned from brown to black over this winter.

Fire. Growing up it was what we used when we intending on having a braai (barbeque). It was the veld in the winter months, not anywhere close.  And it was something we watched on the news while ravishing the Cape, or parts of America. We had a fire place…..BUT my mom had placed a couch in front of it as well as a number of ornamental pieces. In the 27 years that my parents have had that house (the last 2- just my mom), a fire has never ever ever been lit in that fire place.

Through the years, I have met so many people that have watched their homes burn to the ground. I can officially say that I have met more than five people in the last couple for years that have watched their homes burn. (In fact one of them actually subscribes to my blog!!) When I hear the story, my mind stops and imagines how dreadful that could possibly be, and then my mind is able to move on. I have never had to comprehend it.

A house a few houses down from my gran’s old house caught alight two weeks ago. It is in a beautiful busy suburb. By the time the fire brigade arrived, much of it was gone….the stone walls stood firm though. I wander how the neighbours felt watching this. I wander what you want to grab if it is your own home, or do you just worry about your loved ones and animals?

Moving out to the country, I can’t tell you how many times fire has consumed my mind. I have become so much more conscious this winter of how scared I am of the ever elusive thing that was always too far to be close. Not only fear, but how I have become needy of it at the same token.

For the first time ever, we have a fire lit in our fireplace every night. Initially it was a disaster! I first asked my Knight if we could try it out (since it has been freaking freezing!!!!) and he ummed and ahhed. I know why now. I don’t think he had ever lit one before, except for a braai outside which did not matter which direction the smoke went! So night after night, he tried. After the first two nights- I had a feeling that we should officially give up. Our house stank! In fact, I battled to breath. It was so cold that you couldn’t open the windows to freshen it all up, so we just lay there in the pollution! My maid even commented after the second night that we were surely going to end up with a black ceiling. I gave up. We would just need to deal with this cold for a little while longer.

That Friday night I came home after pilates to a warm tv room. It was wonderful. I complimented my knight for getting it right! (What a man!) Haha- I am sure it killed him, but he straight away confessed that he had come home to this fire. He hadn’t  touched it. Can you believe it? My maid was clearly wandering where these “malongoos” (spell check that one in an African language please) learnt to do things.

Saturday night, my knight tried again. Eventually I went to call her- our hero. She came in and fixed my knight’s attempt. I don’t think she realised that at the point when she was doing something nice, this would become a part of her daily job. But she has made me proud. I have watched her stick her hands into that burning flame, and move pieces of wood around. I squirm, and worry. And she does it. And she remains fine. No burns.

The lit fire place in our home seems to calm me.

The drive home every night is what sends so many mixed emotions through me. I drive through huge pieces of area where it is just land, and long grass that has dried out over our dry winter months. We live on 50 000 square metres, and much of it is long dry grass. The estate is filled with pieces of land exactly the same. I have looked at these fires in awe. Driving past and watching mountains on fire, is quite breath taking. But at the same token the closer I get to home, the more my heart beats. The smell fills the air, and it is a beautiful smell (when it is outside!) But my memory goes back to the day we lit a fire on the way home, and how uncontrollable it became in a matter of moments.

In the last few nights, I have seen how the land has just become completely black. Everywhere your eyes look, there are just huge stretches of blackness.

Our grass is still long, and even drier. (Not the grass around the house, it’s our “outer land”). So I can honestly say that I think for the next couple of months I may be on my toes. I have no idea what I would do if our land caught fire. I would panic! Our animals would be my first concern. And then of course our home. (Perhaps jumping the gun!)

I have a feeling though that my knight and my maid would not worry too much. Hopefully I never have to post about that! Please dear God.




  1. One of my greatest fears too!

    • Hopefully we never need to worry about it. x

  2. I think everybody fears that. Where we are, as I suspect with you, there are no hydrants, so they have to come with tanker trucks full of water that have to be repeatedly refilled. Just hope it never happens. Interestingly though, fires and fireplace are such a part of our culture here. It’s probably that way around the world but I don’t know. We have a wood stove in our house which we use frequently through the winter, more as just a fireplace for the comforting view than as a heat source, although it does make the room its in pretty warm and toasty! Then of course we are constantly sitting around our firepit on summer evenings. It’s much wetter here in the northern U.S. than where you are or evening the South U.S. Not that an outside fire just a short distance from your home couldn’t cause a disaster. I love fires though, as long as they stay where they’re supposed to be.

    • Does anything do wat it is suppossed to? Haha. x

  3. I love the smell of a fire, oh and the sound. Fire burned down an entire town north of here so we fear it too.

    • An entire town? Was that recently? x

  4. A house a couple blocks away burned. They had to hook up two pumper trucks to a fire hydrant 1-1/2 blocks down the the hill to pump the water. No fire hydrants up in that section. They all have well water so no local piping.

    We have a fireplace, used it for a couple years now we haven’t used it in a couple years.

  5. I grew up with a fireplace typically lit during winter. A lot of newer homes in Canada have gas fireplaces with a switch on the wall, no matches required! We always had campfires at the lake in summer, I remember learning how to light a fire with my Dad. It became a competition with my little brother, who could build a lasting fire. Hubby also loves a fire in the evenings, since we’ve been experiencing a heat wave I’d rather cook on the fire than use the stove inside. I have to agree though, I have been freaked out by fire in this dry summer, worried it might catch the grass or roof of the house. I keep the garden hose handy 🙂

    • I dont know if a hose woudl cut it.
      Those fire places sound stunning. We went away over the weekend, and the place we stayed had the same thing. Really awesome. Decided I want one!!! In all the bedrooms.

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