Blasty Boughs

The Sound of Flankers

When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of an orange light
That split the night
And touched the sound of flankers

With apologies to Paul Simon! I’m not sure how this thought got in my head, but for some reason, lately, I’ve had the sound, smell and sight of flankers, from a nice blasty bough, flying high, in my memory.  I don’t so much have a story to tell , but a word, and a memory to share.

What are flankers? Well the link can tell you they are sparks from a fire, but really they are more.  A part of a lifestyle, memories from a time many have forgotten, and may be getting lost. Bonfires, and boil ups, ice fishing and skating on ponds and lakes.  Days and nights spent with parents and relatives now gone. Indelible memories.

I am taken back to Island Pond.  Probably not one memory but many combined.  In with Dad and Keith, pulled by our old horse Pet on the slide, a fire going on the shore while we cut holes through the ice with an axe.  No ice auger for us in those days.  Salt Pork for bait. Not sure we ever caught one, but what was better was the time spent together.

You know you remember them too, and can smell them.  The orange needles from an old spruce or fir top thrown on a fire, immediately igniting into a fireworks display better than any Canada Day celebration.  The accompanying smell as they rise high into the night, throwing an orange glow on the snow and ice. While your tea boils in an old apple juice can strung up with rabbit wire over the fire.

Flankers aren’t a concrete thing, but a portal to a world that was, and memories we cherish.


Blasty Boughs and Boil Ups

A cup of tea always tastes better in the woods.  I’ve heard that statement said so many times over the years and I guess I have to agree, because from my perspective anyway, it can’t taste worse!

One of the best things about a winter day on the pond trouting, or out on atvs and ski-doos though, had to be a boil up.  We’d clear out a spot on the shore of a pond, or by the side of a path, and gather up some dry brush, birch bark to start it, and of course blasty boughs and tops.  A blasty bough is something you know when you see it, but kind of hard to describe.  The best ones were the top of a fir, dried to a bone gray with needles clinging to it, ready to give off a tremendous heat, and easy to burn even when covered with snow once it was shook off.

We’d likely have an old graves apple juice can with the top cut out of it, wire strung in it, filled with snow and hung over the roaring fire to make a cup of tea.  The needles and twigs dropping in the water probably added flavour.  And of course, kipper snacks and sardines to eat, put on a forked stick over the fire, or eaten out of the can.

If we were lucky enough to catch a trout, it might be on a stick over the fire too, eaten with our fingers, burning the tips and jabbing them in a snow bank.  Tea was poured into an enamel or tin cup, (or for me anyway coffee, yes I’m different), drank scalding hot.

Ah yes, memories of times with dad come fresh to mind, times with Eric and Rod too, trouting on Smith’s Long Pond.  Good days.