Robert Browning wrote:
HOME THOUGHTS FROM ABROAD
Oh, to be in England
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossom’d pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops — at the bent spray’s edge —
That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower
— Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!
And I can only stand in awe and say: “Oh, to be in Edinburgh, now that Beltane’s there.”
Our bonfire is lit every year by the May Queen, at roughly midnight, when May Day begins at the start of summer. In Celtic times, livestock was driven close to the fire to drive out disease, so it’s important that our bonfire be a source of much heat and smoke.
We make sure the space on the hill is thoroughly cleaned both before and after the festival so that we not leaving any mark on the hill itself.
Many different types of wood go into the bonfire. Sadly, we don’t have time to wait around while the fire is kindled; the bonfire uses the same sacred fire that is lit from a single spark at the start of the Beltane festivities.
So Dani of the Beltane Bees has been gathering up some old pallets, which will form the main structure of the fire. Pallets aren’t very traditional, but they’re exactly what we need: a big structure to form the fire around, full of holes for airflow so that the fire can inflame quickly and dramatically.
May it be so for you.