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Days of Happy Talk
Prairie Fire Like a Flamenco Dancer


   At night after all the day's light is gone  the prairie fire expresses a strength almost as compelling as a flamenco dancer  who cracks the soles of her shoes against the floor. Click, crack, stamp,  goes the sound from  her feet and it is like the audible range of fire burning on the ground. There is a regular snapping connected with an occasional zipping of a spewing of some bigger,  more fibrous plant holding enough moisture to explode in this way.
    The red of the dancer's skirt plays rapidly back and forth as her hands jerk it just so, making us wonder about the rhythm of it and the intensity of her concentration and the power of her actions. So too, is the burning of the flames of that fire. The wind jerks the flames about, back and forth, slowly but then, again, quickly with a passion to run it from one place to another with ease. Those who are observers are at once petrified with the power. Hurry, quickly, hurry, stop it, contain it if you can.
    Memories are registered of fires during the day light hours when our brave sister ran to open gates in many pastures. No one had a thought to do that. They were too busy trying to keep buildings from being overrun and destroyed. The cattle and horses who couldn't run ahead of the blaze because they came up against barb wire closed gates were an after thought to men who were trying to save their family's shelter. Only one fiery, brave little woman could answer the challenge of that entity. Ultimately, no one even knew she had done this. No one but the angels for the animals because they ran with her and she actually felt she saw those higher powers in action when the fire burned up to one ranch house, split in the middle and burned all around it before it raced on it way in greed for taller and more rank pastures.
    But more than the activity is the particular odor it holds. There is nothing like it. How can an odor that is so dangerous and so uncontrollable bring such pleasure. The smell of burning grass to be like a gift only enjoyed but occasionally in one's life. Even for miles the smoke wafts across the terrain, dipping down here, traveling on higher there, and generally flirting with all who are aware of the memories being evoked by its presence. Was there was a dark night like this when we were children looking on from a safe distance? The black silhouette of the men who were busily running, back and forth against the red of the background of fire registered in our mind and is an eternal imprint. Maybe it was the time the fire was raging so that our Mother had a worried look on her face. Or was it the night after the tired men were retired, exhausted and black faced while nothing was left but the cold, wet, conquered prairie? The fire was the enemy but it was warm. Now all is cold and subdued. Even emotion has been smothered by the successful men. The feel is dark and depressing instead of happy and elated as when the fire danced for them. Exhausted minds and bodies have used the last of their adrenaline and now only lethargy after the first call to action remains. The flamenco dancer has stopped in an instant and is in place, holding her rebellious stance, as she triumphs over the pounding rhythm of the guitar and she is only waiting for another opportunity to perform again.
    Sometimes a fearsome war, when it is over, brings those who were fighting closer to one another. And, it is often the way with these prairie people when they walk away from the  blackened ash,  arm and arm together, or maybe they stand embracing while their children hold to their legs.


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