The joy of smoke
I was down in the village last evening.
There is something about the village after six. It somehow seems to take on a different atmosphere. Most of the shops are shut, the Plebs have all headed back to Suburbia and the place takes on a mantle of peace and quiet.
One of the aspects which seems particularly noticeable is the air. There is the sweet smell of a mixture of turf and wood smoke which is a pleasure to the senses. I find the smell of smoke to be very evocative. Coal smoke invariably reminds me of old railway stations and the smog that used to occasionally blanket Dublin. Turf smoke makes me think of the West and holidays. Wood smoke reminds me of camping with the Scouts and cooking sausages up in Larch Hill.
The mix of wood and turf is somehow the signature scent of the village.
Of course they rant and rave about this little pleasure in life. They scream about particulate matter destroying our lungs and causing instant cancer. When they’re done screaming about that they start screeching about the planet. We mustn’t burn turf because it isn’t sustainable or renewable and it throws filthy clouds of shit into the atmosphere causing the planet to explode. Wood is sustainable and renewable but it too is belching out carbon or something which is destroying the planet. Both must be banned. Burning is bad. Smoke is evil. We must all rely on electricity which is colourless in all senses of the word.
The bastards have no poetry in their souls.
Turf, peat to the non Celt, is perfectly sustainable if the bog is harvested correctly. It has been done for centuries. It is pollarding or coppiceing on a smaller plant – moss. I will not bore you with the process.
What is not sustainable is driving roads through bogs so that great structures and heavy machinery can be taken all over the bog, burying thousand ton blocks of reinforced concrete in many places throughout the bog, linking the lot up with cable. The roads of course have to stay in place forever so that the structures can be maintained and replaced every decade or so, as well as for removing the dead birds.
I could write a thesis on the subject of turf [peat] but it would be boring. I used to have a bank at the top of the valley and used to cut my own turf. It was incredibly tiring work and immensely enjoyable. The combination of hard work and sweet mountain air was better than any sleeping potion. I haven’t cut for many years now as it’s a bit beyond me, but I notice that my old bank is long gone, buried beneath the layer of new bog that Nature is happily providing.
If I had had any say in the matter I would have banned machine cutting as that is akin to strip-mining. It leaves a bit of a mess and can do damage to the whole ecosystem.
As for windmills – there was a story a while back about the construction of a windfarm and how the work had caused an entire bog to slide down and cause death and chaos.
I have no experience with peat as far as heating goes but for close to forty years I did rely on wood for that purpose.
It got to the point where my back and legs weren’t up to the task anymore and the environmental claptrap was in full swing.
So, the wood stove was replaced with a pellet stove. At least I can still watch the fire.
There is no smell I have ever known that has evocative powers comparable with that of turf smoke.
Several years ago, a friend of mine moved to a village about 10 miles outside of Dublin. Everybody seemed so friendly as they moved in, especially the very nice man who sold them a load of peat for their open fire. However, no matter what they did, they couldn’t get it to light. Assistance from their new neighbour and a little investigation revealed they had been sold pieces of somebody’s lawn! There are helpful people and helpful people!