Fire and rain

8 comments on Fire and rain
2 minutes

Let me apologize for borrowing the title of James Taylor’s most famous, and most overplayed, song. Here at Down the Road we work hard to avoid cliched blogger tricks such as naming posts after famous songs. But dang it, this post is all about fire and rain. The title is just right!

First, the fire.

2012 Rose-Hulman bonfire

This was the scene Friday night on the far west end of campus at my alma mater, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. There’s been an annual bonfire for something like 90 years. These budding engineers don’t mess around – they build a 25-foot-tall structure out of railroad ties, douse it liberally with some sort of accelerant, set it alight, and stand waaaaaaaay back. This sucker gets seriously hot. Here’s about 30 seconds of the fire at full roil.

And now the rain. Oh, did it rain. It fell slowly at first as the crowd gathered, but by the time the fire was set alight hundreds of us stood in a downpour. As the fire got going, though, bit by bit the rain seemed to lighten, and soon it seemed to stop. We basked in the fire’s extreme heat for a while, mesmerized as the fire twisted and danced. But the hour grew late, and my sons and I began thinking about our 90-minute drive back home. So we turned and pushed through the crowd.

It started sprinkling on us again as we walked away, and by the time we reached our car we were being drenched again.

You see, it had never stopped raining. The fire was so hot that it evaporated the raindrops before they hit the ground.

Rose-Hulman is a great place to be if you’re a geek. I’m a proud geek. I fit right in! Read that story.


8 responses to “Fire and rain”

  1. ryoko861 Avatar

    Wow! That’s some bonfire! My son was at a bonfire once that was so hot it melted a part of his bumper on his truck. And he was parked some distance away. Obviously, not far enough though,.

    1. Jim Avatar

      This is why parking is so far away from the Rose-Hulman bonfire. Oh, and why the fire department sends a truck to the site.

  2. davidvanilla Avatar

    That’s one, excuse the expression, hell of a bonfire! The being rained on would have been little to my liking, but it seems you had fun anyway.

    1. Jim Avatar

      We didn’t enjoy being rained on either. It was an unpleasant 90-minute drive home, with all of us soaked to the skin.

  3. Scott Palmer Avatar

    Awesome. I’ve attended very few bonfires, but they’re always an experience. Sometimes rain is all right, but it sounds as if you got a little too much for that.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Yes, the idea is not to get drenched before you get hot.

  4. Lone Primate Avatar
    Lone Primate

    Any idea how the tradition got kicked off, Jim?

    1. Jim Avatar

      Oh man, I used to know, but it’s lost in the mist and the fog. I do know that the outhouse atop the structure was added in the 1940s sometime, and that in its earliest incarnations the fire wasn’t this big.

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