Monday, February 15, 2010

Burning Fields

The crackling sound distinctive of fire caught my attention at 9am this morning. Looking out from the balcony I saw 4-meter-high flames, a rising plume of thick smoke, and two men sitting at a safe distance away monitoring the operation. Burning crop detritus after harvest is a traditional way to fertilize the soil for the next crop. It's illegal in many countries (including Egypt) due to its negative effect on air quality, but it's still done. Last year, we counted numerous plumes on the horizon each day after 2pm -- the quitting time for governmental inspectors. It would seem that fear of the law is abated this year. Thankfully, the wind blew the smoke away from the flat; but I know that a little later I will need to sweep up large, black, papery cinders that have floated from on-high onto the balcony.

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