Wildfire

On a recent morning, we had a view of a striking brownish streak high across an otherwise clear blue sky. It was presumably smoke from the Canadian wildfires.

Smokey Bear defines wildfire as “the term applied to any unwanted, unplanned, damaging fire burning in forest, shrub or grass” and goes on to say that it “is one of the most powerful natural forces known to people.”

Mr. Family Trivium didn’t recall having seen such a prominent indicator of a distant wildfire since the Yellowstone fires of 1988. In our more recent family visit to the park, we learned quite a bit about wildfire. They can be unforgivingly destructive, but they are also a part of nature and can bring rejuvenation.

We witnessed sobering evidence of more recent wildfires, but we also saw that after 25 years, the lodgepole pine forest had significantly recovered from the 1988 fires. In a United States Forest Service article on the species, Michelle Anderson explains that the lodgepole pines in the Rocky Mountains have cones with a resin that melts at abut 120 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature that is generally only reached in the species range when a fire is present. When the resin melts, seeds are released, allowing a new generation of trees to begin their life as the forest successes.

The thought of wildfire can be scary, but we don’t let it bother us, unless there is an actual active threat where we had planned to hike or camp. After a recent local wildfire, after the fire department had declared the threat had passed, we went for a little walk in the area and were amazed by how well some of the plants handled the event. We saw things that we hadn’t seen before – things hidden by tall grass and under story brush. Nature has a lot to offer in terms of learning and pure enjoyment, so we hope that you will take your next opportunity to get out into it.

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