Wednesday, October 12, 2005

It's all gone...

I went up to Wildwood Canyon to hike today. It had been closed since the recent fires, and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I'd watched the flames tickle the sky for days preceding the trip to the wine country - knew it was going to be bad - but wasn't quite prepped for the scene, I tell ya.

I don't run trails to take it slow. But there was a cottontail who'd always pop out from behind one of the sages at the same spot, tease me to follow her, and run me up a particularly onerous part of the hill before dashing behind the shrubbery again.

There was no cottontail. There was no sage. There was no shrubbery.

There was an acrid film of ash, run through with the dun brown of a well-worn path. The inexorable climb, which was previously relatively well-masked by laurels and sages and yucca, was laid bare. The fire had stripped the hill nearly naked, exposing the beer bottles, cans, and other human detritus in its wake.

There was a cranny in the canyon that I used to love to cut down into, as it always smelled of the moss and ferns that tucked themselves around the little creek that had formed it - always ten degrees cooler, always beckoning me down from the ridge. It's now just an ugly gash in the rock, and the trickle of water that staggers through it must push through the remains of the mudslide the fire marshal left in his wake.

I hope my little cottontail made it out. And I mourn the beauty that used to pull me out of bed uncustomarily early in the morning to peruse it...can't wait 'till my canyon recovers.


toshok said...

so glad you started blogging :)

this (and most other stories of wildfires) reminds me of this area on Howard AFB where I spent much of the 3 years of my father's tour:

A giant mound of rock and clay with a man-made ditch surrounding it - a castle and moat for many a rock fight. The invading army almost never won, and almost never escaped without casualties.

Each year all the saw grass and random scrub in the field surrounding the rock would burn. Our parents kept us away while it was burning, but once things looked safe they'd let us back into the field. Standing on that rock, surveying the damage, was unreal. An entire field laid to waste. The destruction was immense to the mind of a child, to the mind of a general - no cover for advancing troops. Nowhere at all to hide.

But each year all the grass would grow back and afford us new hiding places from which to launch our offensives. Each year, from non-existent to towering overhead, before we realized it.

Here's hoping wildwood canyon bounces back in a similar fashion :)

'nette said...

It's still a little surreal to me that you shared Panama with me. Wasn't that near Officers' Hill? I lived up there, and I'd always see iguanas lazing in the man-made ditch you mention. My mom named them all.

Those fires almost took the hospital while my dad was commanding it...and forced an evac of a large number of families, who took up residence in the base theater. Sounded like a lot fo fun to me at the time.