Monday, September 08, 2014

Scorched Earth

The other day, our hike took us to an area that had burned in one of the fires this summer.
I thouroughly expected to feel sadness; to mourn the loss of biomass right here in my own back yard.

While the fire was active, anxiety pulsed through our little town like an electric current.
The unknown loomed large, while we faced giant clouds of smoke, and the sight of trees gone orange in flames.  Those days spent waiting, our brains raced and reeled through our own conclusions, since there was no satisfying news the media could supply.

This was my first up close and personal forest fire event.  We were fortunate enough not to have been evacuated from our homes.  But that meant that we could watch the fire raging from our doorsteps, in the not too distant distance.  We watched the water bombers fly directly over our house to reach the lake, and we timed their circuit, less than 5 minutes in total.

So, imagine my surprise when instead I felt hopeful, standing there on that burnt ground.

As we entered that space, it felt so quiet and empty, even devoid of birdsong.  It was a space suggestive of whispering.  The ghosts of the former forest hung heavy in the air, as the smell of smoke and charred wood.
While at the same time, shiny young mahonia shoots were unfurling impossibly green new leaves, and bright weeds were popping up just about everywhere we looked.  
There was so much new energy, quietly rising out of what had first looked like utter destruction.

I hope that the next time we go through this experience, I will remember the new growth, surging out of the blackened ground, that I will remember the hope, and the promise of life renewed.

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