Making Charcoal At The Bulworthy Project

Charcoal kiln smokes like a squat old pagan god

Just a structure, at first. A ring of metal that sits, foot-swaddled in tarred sand. 

(It has a big lid, like a witch's cook pot, and here we are in the woods…)

We learn how to stack logs inside, how the layers wheel out, how positioning of sizes is guided by pockets of future heat. It is good work, smelling cut wood, eyeing grain-whirls, hands on bark, the muffled drop of getting each piece in optimal place. 
Even the rain is fun, a challenge. 

Stacked, lidded, sealed with a slick of sand.
Into the middle of our sculpture fire is set. 
An effigy for burning, unseen - well, we may peek with mirrors through out-pipes, witness a glow - but should we crack the lid the fumes would ignite - we should all burn.
Potential annihilation has an awe, a draw, even before the smoke seeps across our feet and the squat ring takes on a life. 
Is it a portal, to a world of steam and light?
It is something new, hypnotic, pluming, turning.
We are smitten with it, the alchemy in there, the happening.

Birds warble.
Trees breathe back the carbon of their brethren.
Autumn nuts weigh and drop.

We walk, brightly over dark mud, eat hearty, swig - all the while the magic chugs - we are drawn back to observe, for hours, spellbound.
Even while we sleep (cramped in the back of our car, Mr and me) it happens.
In the morning we drink coffee, watching thin mist spin.
Spinning what, we must wait to know.

Smoke billows from under a lid - like a cauldron

Certificate for completing the charcoal course


I love that second photo.
Lisa Southard said…
It was an amazing thing to witness - so glad we went :-)

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