Ecological Restoration Celebrations and Solstice Bonfires


Human societies and cultures have long staged Summer and Winter Solstice, and Equinox celebrations to honor or renew the connections of one human to another and to celebrate the relationships of humans to the rest of nature.  Bonfires are usually a centerpiece of solstice celebrations.

In a similar fashion, restoration ecologists (at least in parts of the world where restoration projects generate vast amounts of cut brush) have employed bonfires some time during the year but usually at year-end celebrations of their work.   To the extent that restoration is a renewal of the land, then solstice/equinox bonfires celebrate that renewal.

Lake Forest (IL) Open Lands Association

Solstice or Equinox restoration bonfires are a celebration of community-based restoration projects, in particular.  In 2012, there are at least three notable community-based restoration bonfire celebrations.  Perhaps the largest bonfire (and one with the most formal ritual) is the one that has been ignited for the past 25 years on, or near, the Autumnal Equinox, by the Lake Forest Open Lands Association.

Autumnal Equinox celebration at Bagpipes and Bonfire festival,  Lake Forest Open Lands Association on September 23, 2012.

Autumnal Equinox celebration at Bagpipes and Bonfire festival, Lake Forest Open Lands Association on September 23, 2012.

Dudgeon Monroe Neighborhood Association

The friendly and active west side Madison, WI neighborhood known as the DMNA will hold its annual Winter Solstice Bonfire at the Glenwood Children’s Park this year on the Solstice  from 6pm to 10 pm.

The Glenwood Children's Park shelters a Council Ring designed by Jens Jensen.

The Glenwood Children’s Park shelters a Council Ring designed by Jens Jensen.

The Prairie Enthusiasts

NOTE:  (Tuesday 12.18.12) TPE Solstice Bonfire has been rescheduled to Saturday evening December 22, 2012 due to the snow storm that is forecast to hit the Madison area starting on Wednesday evening and continuing through Thursday.   Snowfall is predicted to total 9″ to 13″ with higher amounts in some areas.

Last, but not least is the Third Annual Winter Solstice Bonfire, staged by The Prairie Enthusiasts, (a Wisconsin-based prairie conservation, restoration, and management group, and citizen sponsored environmental organization) from 5:30 to 9pm on Friday December, 21, 2012.  See the invitation and directions, from Richard Oberle, below:

“Come celebrate the longest night of the year at The Prairie Enthusiasts’ third annual Winter Solstice Bonfire at our Schurch-Thomson Prairie Preserve.  Gather around a hot fire on a cold winter’s night with food, drink, and good company.  Appropriate for all ages!  Come and go as your scheduled permits.”

“Bring your favorite food or drink to share with others, and maybe a folding chair, as we gather around a hot fire meeting new people and renewing old acquaintances.  Hopefully the moon and stars will reveal themselves as has happened in the past.”

“Park by the barn and along Reilly Road.   The bonfire site is a short hike into the valley bottom below the barn.  Arrangements can be made for those needing help getting to and from the fire.
Contact Richard Oberle for questions at 608-826-0559 (evening) or 608-231-8441 (days).”

“Directions to Schurch-Thomson Prairie: from the intersection of US Hwy 18/151 and County F (south of Blue Mounds in western Dane County), take F approximately 5 miles south.  Turn right onto Reilly Road, and proceed to the barn.  Park along the road.  Note: a half mile down County F from 18-151, pay close attention to the road signs, for F turns to the right and the straight ahead road becomes County Z.  Stay on F.”

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About Steve Glass

The blogger is a restoration ecologist practicing and writing in the Midwestern United States.
This entry was posted in Community-based restoration, Ecological restoration, Restoration ecology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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