Ashes, Ashes........

I spent a little bit of today hacking and coughing; squinting at the brownish gray-tinged sky. I think California has the worst air-quality in the country right now, and it's due to the incredible amount of wildfires that are raging throughout the state. Right now there are over 1,400 wildfires burning, and most are less than 50% contained. For a week now I have heard helicopters overhead, I assume on water runs to the nearby Pacific. At church today I looked closely at the black tablecloth before me and realized that all those little grey specks were ashes. It's been a strange sort of June.
Quercus, Ceanothus, Eschscholtzia: R.I.P.
The fire I've got my eye on is one that is burning in Monterey County, specifically in Big Sur, it looks like it's right where we were driving when we were there in the spring looking for wildfires, I mean wildflowers. Here's a link to that post, in memoriam. This fire is only 3% contained and has already eaten up over 35,000 acres. That's a lot of dead grass and oak trees. Apparently, the forest service just lets them burn, unless homes are threatened.......although, I guess I can't really blame them.
And so meanwhile, we look to home, and try to keep our Smokey the Bear Junior Forest Ranger skills up to date......


Anonymous said...

It is a little shocking to realize at first that the forest service has a policy of letting fires burn. But we have been studying wildfires (taking advantage of the situation to learn!) and found out that if the fire was started by people, then they will often try to contain it, but if it was caused naturally, by lightning, then they let it do its thing, as long as it is not threatening people or structures. The idea is to let nature run its course, which is a healthy and necessary part of the forest life cycle. For example, there are certain types of pine trees that have such tightly closed seedcones that only fire will allow them to open and reseed! Just a note about the positive side of the fires. : )

I hope today the air quality is much better! Funny, we have not noticed any poor air quality here in aptos--but then again, with our wood-burning fireplace going much of the year, we are probably the worst polluters in our neighborhood. I can see the spotty blue haze lingering in the gulch as I write!


rosa said...

You know, I would be remiss if I did not mention Romneya coulteri, the Matillija poppy, (or 'Fried Egg' Poppy, at least that's what I call it...) which is a lovely CA native. It's seed needs a healthy shot of some of the chemicals found in smoke in order to germinate. So, yes, you're right, it is all a part of a healthy cycle. I'm much to sentimental about such ephemera as wildflowers and trees, anyway!
I miss you and your delightful tangle of girl cubs!

Colleen said...

Imagine how great it will be to go next spring and see what grows out of the ash. In AZ we would go to a burn site every six months or so and check on the growth, it was fun in an odd way!

Read Your Way Through the Garden: Choice Tomes From Garden Literature

  • A Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch
  • Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
  • Making Bentwood Trellises by Jim Long
  • RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers
  • Rose Primer: An Organic Approach to Rose Selection & Care by Orin Martin
  • Start With the Soil by Grace Gershuny
  • Sunset Western Garden Book
  • Sunset Western Landscaping Book
  • The Book of Garden Secrets by Patent & Bilderback
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany
  • the Gardener's Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking by Richard Merrill & Joe Ortiz
  • The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek
  • The Hutchinson Dictionary of Plant Names: Common & Botanical
  • We Made A Garden by Margaret Fish

lotsa latin: rosa's botanical & etymological ruminations

  • vespertinus: flowers in the evening
  • vernalis:spring
  • veni vidi nates calcalvi: we came, we saw, we kicked butt. This was printed on a T shirt I bought at Abbot's Thrift many years ago. It encircled the NEA symbol. I wish I knew why.
  • superciliaris: shaped like an eyebrow ex: sturnella superciliaris, the White-browed Blackbird
  • rosa-sinensis: species of Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Lit. Rosa of China, so named by British plant hunters.
  • placentiformis: shaped like a cake ex: discocactus placentiformis
  • nudiflorus: flowers before leaves show ex: flowering quince, magnolia
  • nivalis: growing in or near snow ex: galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop)
  • muralis: growing on walls
  • mirabilis: marvellous, wonderful
  • formosa: beautiful ex: dicentra formosa, a.k.a.western bleeding heart/dutchman's breeches/lady in a bath
  • carpe vitam: get a life
  • Carolus Linnaeus: Latinized name of Carl von Linne (1707-1778), Swedish naturalist considered the father of plant taxonomy. Whatta guy.