|Never put your flames before the swine, Cont'd|
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At first I looked at her as if she had just dropped an f-bomb during a Church ceremony. But the more I thought about the idea, the more I realized that it just may work. The concept of the Viking Funeral is that the body is placed on a conveyance, lit ablaze, and then sent off to travel a waterway during the last moments of its existence. It was a good idea given the circumstances, and we had everything we needed to get the job done. (well, we had no lake)|
I knew that in order to get Chet 'reduced' properly, we would need some serious BTU's. The kind of BTU's that only people like the U.S. Armed Forces would use. Fire so hot that people in China would notice the ground was warm.
4 months previous we had encountered horrible storms that ripped tons of branches from the many trees on our property, so we had a metric ass-load of wood and kindling. In line with my camping experience, we built a proper fire with a base of logs and palettes, and a cone-shaped spire of large branches with the late-Chet in the center of it all. The only remaining thing was to introduce a little flammable catalyst in the form of bbq lighter fluid, drop a match on the whole thing, and Chet was off to the land of the deceased Viking pigs.
After grabbing a true Texas strike-anywhere match, I lit the little wood stick on the base of my boot (state regulations ya know) and tossed it onto the pile.
"I saw something so amazing that I just stood frozen for a solid 5 minutes with my mouth hanging open like Buckwheat on the Little Rascals."
There was a loud 'whoosh' sound, due mostly to my over zealous use of the lighter fluid, and then a great column of fire. As I looked at the burning monolith I felt certain we had this under control, and that Chet was on his way.
2 minutes later I was horrified to learn that I was very wrong.
The lighter fluid did burn big, hot, and fast. But once it was gone the fire died down rapidly. It seems that the wood from the storm of months past was just not as dried as I thought it was. You would think that 4 months in the Texas summer heat would dry the water out of a pool, but the wood was still moist - still unable to burn even when generously doused with lighter fluid.
As the fire began to die down the horror of the situation started to sink in. There was a 15-foot pile of wood in the middle of our property with a 400lb pig in the center of it all. It was not flammable by any measure, and our Viking Funeral plans were laid waste with the reality that we now had a big, biohazardous mess on our hands.
We were all exhausted from the setup of the funeral, so I instructed everyone to go in the house to cool off to buy me some time to come up with another plan. Right before I was to leave the area, I carefully checked the ground to make sure there was nothing smoldering that could turn into a fire on our property. There was one hotspot about 8 inches from the pile, and I hit it with some water before starting back to the house.
Five feet from the door the boy muttered the most peculiar statement: "Great job on the pig, Dad."
As I looked up to tell the boy what had really happened I saw it. I saw something so amazing that I just stood frozen for a solid 5 minutes with my mouth hanging open like Buckwheat on the Little Rascals.
The Viking Funeral was on.
In the 3 minutes I had my back turned on the burn pile, it had gone from a non-burning mass into a solid 40-foot column of fire. You could not see any of the wood, and every square inch of the burn pile was alight.
Now, this may just sound like a big fire, but it was so much more. It burned so hot that you could not get within 30 feet of the pile. I stayed as close as possible to keep everything under control, but the heat was so much that the front of the soles on my boots turned dark and rolled up a bit. We have a few bon fires every year, but nothing ever as big and as hot as this was.
As I stood there watching this all unfold in utter amazement, I was paralyzed by the sight of it all.
Why the hell was it burning? It was obvious that the wood was too wet because massive clouds of water vapor emanated from the pile. But the fire just got bigger and hotter as time passed. It had to be the pig - it had to be burning because of Chet!
As a good farmer, I kept an eye on the burn pile well into the evening. After more than 4 hours the fire finally started to die down a little bit. It was still a massive column of fire, and still too hot to get in proximity of, but after 4 hours it started to show signs of subsiding. In 40 years I have never seen ANYTHING burn like that. Nothing that hot, and nothing that stayed hot for so long, not even a house fire. It would be a total of 6 hours before the fire diminished to a manageable size and one could get close enough to see what had happened. It was 8 hours before the flames actually started to die off. By the next morning there was a smoldering pile of ashes about 10 feet in diameter. Chet was not visible and all the wet wood was completely gone.
Someday you may find yourself at the gas pump, not wondering if you should use unleaded or super-unleaded, but wondering whether you want your fuel in white meat or dark meat.