You can’t go very far in Fort Collins without seeing some sort of sign thanking the firefighters #HighParkFire
Ty Brennan – via Twitter
This quote was just posted today. It reflects one of the many things I love about my community and one of the many reasons I grieve for it and its people and the losses we are experiencing as a result of the High Park Fire. Those individuals who have lost their homes have barely come to terms with this reality. And even those of us who have our homes intact will be forever changed as a result of this tragedy as well.
The nearby mountains that we drive through to get away from the heat in the summer will no longer provide the shade and scent of evergreens – at least for several decades. The hiking trails that we sought to gain solitude will be a different landscape for many months – smelling of burned wood and charred rocks. And the views will be barren of the beautiful trees that we so loved.
Even as the fire continues to burn, I’m hopeful for the future. You see, nature is at work here. One of the primary reasons this fire has been so difficult to contain is that many of our beloved pine trees were already dead. We have watched them – one by one – turn brown and drop all of their needles as the Mountain Pine Beetle destroyed their bark – and took away their life force. They have provided the kindling that the fire needed to burn so ferociously. And maybe the fire is here for a reason…
I heard recently that the Ponderosa Pine that populates much of our forests in this area can only reproduce in the presence of fire. The fire is what causes the pine cones to open and release their precious treasure – the seeds that grow the next generation.
A few years ago, I visited Yellowstone National Park and was in awe of the recovery of the forest after the devastating fire that hit that beautiful part of the world in 1988. Young, bright green trees covered the landscape, growing up between the remains of the burned stumps. Twenty years later, the new trees had already reached close to twenty feet. And I couldn’t help but smile at the new forest that grew from the ashes of the old one.
So today, I’m grateful for the efforts of all of those working to contain this fire. But I’m also grateful for the wisdom of our planet and the beauty and even sometimes of the ferocity of nature. I am not glad that this happened, and I do not wish for anyone to lose their home. But I will look forward to the rebuilding – of people’s lives, of homes and of the forest. And I will smile at our new forest as she grows from the ashes of the old.
©CathyUlrich and LargeSelf, 2012