August 13, 2018

Fire Landscape

Fire Landscape

Farm News

A huge red fire ball looms over the farm late in the afternoon. As it sets to the west, it disappears behind the thick layer of smoke, but it is still light. The haze of the days and the inability to see the hills that normally surround us have become normal this summer. Somewhere a fire burns, taking decades of brush and undergrowth and turning it to ash. We are reminded that as far away as it is from our farm, it really is not that far away from any of us.

The fires have not affected the crops, but they have taken a toll on the morale of the people. Generally, there is some reprieve from the intense summer heat in the beauty of this place, the hills. The fresh evening breeze provides a much needed reset each day. Through the thick air and haze, we have only memories of the summer hills, but we are sure they are still there.

The good news is that whatever is burning now will not burn again for many years. We talk about the last time this place or that place burned, and there is often no memory of it −10, 20, 30 plus years without a fire. In the not so distant past, lightning strikes would routinely light up these place one at a time, here and there. They would burn a bit then run into a place that burned a few years ago and put themselves out, creating a patterned quilt of wild lands ripe for a fire mixed with recently burned places that could not be burned by the most talented of fire starters. We are good at putting small fires out. Now, it is all ready to burn and as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow and that summer will give way to fall, wild areas will burn. Now they burn so large that all we can do is watch, in awe, of the amazing force our environment delivers.

In the haze the farm moves on, keeping pace with the earth’s run around that red fire ball in the sky. The summer crops are slowing to their main stride of harvest. The planting window for our precious fall vegetables has arrived. Into the ground, we tuck kale, chard, collards and lettuce transplants. From the hot soil, carrot seeds pop from the ground. Satsuma mandarins exceed the size of a golf ball, but are still a deep and dark green. The canal runs at its brim bringing water to all our crops.

When the haze does not completely bury the sun in the evenings, a spectacular sunset rich with colors is delivered. For a moment the image is so intense, so lucid and pure that we forget about all of it − only seeing the beauty of the world.

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