Fiery Thoughts 

Beams of sunlight radiated from every snow crystal swaddling Yellowstone National Park. Ravaged by fire, silhouettes of charred tree trunks fingered the sparkling snow.  In spite of the destruction, the sight drew shivers up my spine. And in the distance, poised atop a pine tree pyre was a golden eagle, shimmering in majesty.

I saw this decades ago before my sight began to fail. Breathtaking beauty that resulted from destruction.  And I wouldn’t have seen the eagle had the canopy grown tall.  It made me wonder in every sense of the word.

This year, following the heavy snows of winter and a wet spring, there have been fewer forest fires than usual near where we live in Colorado. Yet, we have seen the heartbreaking pictures of the Amazon’s rainforest being devoured in avaricious flame.  I am appalled, angered and saddened at this sight, for though, on a small scale I have witnessed the restoration that fire brings in its wake, I cannot imagine how the planet will recover from this devastation.  Another disaster to heat the earth.

I’ve written before about how much we have enjoyed taking visitors to eerily beautiful swamplands, populated by eerily fascinating alligators!  We take a shallow boat through the flooded land and learn about its times and seasons.  At some stage the guide points out areas of sparse shrub and tree growth, and explains that this is the result of fire.  At first it’s hard to grasp – fire amongst such wetlands.   This environment is ever changing, being fed only by rainwater there are times of drought, when people pursued by bears and gators can run across the swampbeds!  Lightning strikes more frequently here and soon the vegetation is aflame. Yet, paradoxically, this scourging by fire feeds the swamp, the ash providing much needed minerals that ensure its survival and growth.

Fire bellowed in the glory hole, the workshop pulsed with heat, sweat streaked the glass blower’s brow as he shaped the glass that will become a light for our kitchen.  We watched, fascinated as a molten glob on the end of a long pipe became a bubble, was heated again, color added, spun, swung,  rolled and tweaked until its form emerged graceful and strong. From the inferno, at the lips of an expert, sprang a work of astonishing art. We will treasure that light and never include it in a house sale!

Sadly, I cannot end these reflections on such a positive note.

Chris grew up in El Paso Texas, where recently the residents were scorched by another form of fire, gunfire.  We watched the TV pictures of the Walmart where we strolled last Christmas, of the neighborhood where Chris’ family lives and goes about their business.  Thankfully they are all safe but shaken. But their neighbors (and in one case I mean this literally) lie dead.  The fire that comes from an automatic weapon should not rain upon people who seek no conflict.  Maddeningly, after similar tragedies, nothing seems to get done.

Let’s make this a time for change.

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