Monday, April 14, 2008
Avoiding Conquest By Inferno
The year's great fires burned high and bright as each village in the region struggled to build a flame-proof belt beyond its borders to prevent a catastrophe. My village was no different. I saw the smoke spires looming not far away as I attempted to learn Mandinka in my outside classroom. A windy afternoon brought the fires so close that they were visible from the village garden. I doubt my green plastic watering can would have slowed them much. Eventually, however, they appeared to retreat again. Sitting outside chatting in the late evening, I noticed the orange glow hovering patiently over the village like a flying phoenix waiting to swoop down low. Tenacious embers were pursuing our small town. I went to the road and could see the fire's horizontal battalions advancing around us. The flames could clearly be seen and even felt as they were perhaps merely a couple hundred meters away. As conquest by inferno appeared inevitable, the fire leapt and danced at our perimeter, its crackling war cry deafening. And then there was a change of wind and we were spared.