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Smoke Rising

Sunday, 13th September 2002, West Yorkshire

bonfire smokeThe steamy bonfire smoke starts out with a warm tint, billowing opaque and almost sharp-edged against the dark foliage of the wood. As it rises it soon becomes bluer and more translucent until, at the top of the column, it disperses to become no more than hint of vapour against the dull green of the crowns of the ash trees.

It takes at least ten seconds from the moment each fresh billow emerges to its dispersal twenty feet or so above the fire.

There's an end of the season melancholy to these lazy curlicues of smoke rising towards a grey sky.

As the bonfire smokes they're dismantling the hay bail shelter that they took such pains to construct. It reminds me of striking the set at the Pageant Players, our local drama group, when the show is page

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a wrack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep

The Tempest (1611), act 4, sc. 1

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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