I returned to the cabin last night after spending more than a week off the mountain. I’m very glad to be back, but the forest is not as it was when I left.
There is a wildfire burning near Yosemite National Park (The Rim Fire) that started about a week ago and that is having effects up and down the mountain range. The fire perimeter on Aug 19 and then again on Aug 23 are shown below via Google Earth data provided by the website (http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3660/). I have also annotated the map with the location of the cabin (the Yellow Pin marked “Cabin”, NE of Arnold, CA). While the closest point of the fire perimeter was 31 miles away on Aug 19, and is now 23 miles away, I am not yet concerned. This may be one case where having logging clear-cuts nearby may be a boon.
The air here is smoke filled and the sun is currently unable to penetrate the haze. The smoke is not thick, but it is thick enough to slightly irritate my respiratory system. I have closed all the cabin windows to keep the particulate levels as low as I can.
My thoughts are with the people who are closer to the fire and who have evacuated the area due to imminent danger or due to the degraded air quality.
My thoughts are also with the forest and all the living things that inhabit these wild, natural areas. I know (intellectually) that fire has always been a part of the natural cycle of forests and is as “natural” as the trees themselves, but I cannot deny the feelings of loss I am experiencing. I also know that fire is required to activate the seeds of specific trees and plants and so is a critical life-force.
I am trying not to judge the fire as bad or good, and just accept what is happening, as surely as I accept the days when 3 feet of snow is dropped from the sky, or when the winds threaten to topple nearby trees. This is what it’s like to be in a natural place. If the fire were closer, and threatening the destruction of this cabin, I would be more deeply affected, and my “acceptance” of what “is” may give way to anger, sadness and then depression. But today, I can reflect on this fire from a more distant emotional place.
I plan to return to this topic over the next several days. I would like to spend time exploring my thoughts and feelings about nature, when it has the potential to reach out and touch me in less idealistic, non-romantic, destructive ways.