Last night, on the eve of my 30th birthday, Byrd and I were driving home from a nice dinner with family. We were chatting about nothing in particular when a sudden white flare lit the dark road in front of us. Sparks and debris rained down from above, and cars on both sides of the road hit their brakes.
An electric transformer on a power pole had just exploded.
I think most people have seen this happen from time to time. I've seen it three or four times myself. You get a quick adrenaline rush as your brain tries to determine whether all this sudden light and noise constitutes a potential danger, and then it subsides as the sparks vanish and the ceramic pieces come to rest impotently on the ground.
So I said, "Hmm."
And Byrd said, "Hmm."
And we waited for the driver in front of us to proceed. Which he did almost immediately, having determined that the shower of ceramic pieces from the transformer had ceased, and no longer posed a threat to his vehicle's shiny finish.
Then it was just Byrd and me on the dark road, and as we reached the spot where the sparks had fallen, we both saw baby flames jump up from the dry grass on the side of the road.
In Texas in the summer, flames in grass are BAD. And these flames were in grass near an old wood fence surrounding someone's weedy, dry, overgrown backyard near their house at the edge of a neighborhood.
I said, "Crap." Byrd said, rather obviously, "Gotta put that out."
I had my seat belt off before Byrd even stopped the car. We both darted out to where the fire was rapidly building. Byrd took a smaller section of flames, while I tackled a larger section nearer the passenger side of the car.
I've never stamped out a fire before, but surprisingly, it came naturally to me. Who knew? I suppose it's instinctual.
Byrd finished stamping out his part and came over to me. "Stomp faster," he instructed as he brought his tennis shoe heedlessly down on the crackling fire.
"I'm wearing flip flops," I said pointedly. I could feel the heat on the top of my foot.
"Oh yeah," he said. He helped me finish off the rest of the flames with his size 13 shoes. From the birth of the flames, it took barely over a minute for us to put them out with our feet.
After a brief rest to make sure nothing was going to re-ignite, Byrd and I exchanged casual high-fives and headed home, our shoes smelling faintly of charred grass.