I’ve talked before on this blog about about wildfires. About how, unless you’ve experienced one, you simply cannot imagine the inexorability, the sheer malevolence, of a force of nature with a seeming mind of its own. You can read one of those earlier posts here, by the way.
I’ve talked about expecting fires, and about watching fires. About living through them, and about smelling them. Hell, I’ve talked even about having to evacuate from them. One thing I’ve never really talked about, however, is what comes after. About the devastation, and the loss. About, also, the survival and the rebuilding.
Now, one of the guys I currently work with is a retired fire chief, so maybe I should just sit back and let him write this damned post — that’s a man with scars and stories to cover just about everything you can imagine.
But…well…this is my blog, so it pretty much has to be my own thoughts.
I was hiking today, through an area devastated by a large fire about 8 years ago. It’s an eerie feeling,* walking through a place like that. It has a graveyard feel to it, a feeling of being surrounded by death and loss:
*Talking about eerie — just wait ‘til I write a post about Quake Lake, that place will most definitely get your hackles up…
Of course, the thing you have to keep in mind, even as you walk through devastation and destruction, is that life…adapts. Hell, life — at least life up here — needs the devastation and destruction of wild fires in order to reproduce. The seeds of the lodge pole pine are held inside the cone by a resin that melts only when the temperature is well over 130 degrees Fahrenheit. That tree, just as one example, will completely die out without fires. Even amidst the destruction, then, even amidst the detritus and scars, new life springs up:
It’s humbling to think about, in a way. The destruction and devastation that is so fearsome to us, that is so hated and loathed, is in the longer term a vital part of the rhythm of life. It goes back to the truth of an old saying: there can be no rebirth without death.
I honestly don’t know if the images above of the little bits of green growing amidst the blacks and greys of a blasted landscape are sad or hopeful, but I think that’s the way things are supposed to be — always with that touch of poignance, always with that mix of bitter and sweet, always with that knowledge of death and loss leavened by the hope of what is to come.
And that, of course, is why I write about the broken and hopeless. Why I write about those with nothing to lose…because they have everything to gain. Because they can be one of those little bits of green…