On our recent trip to Montana we saw nature at its fiercest; from fog to blizzards, rain and snow, to evidence of raging wildfires.
This region of eastern Washington is normally fairly dry, but a recent fire made it even drier. It may have been last year or longer ago that the fire went through here because the grass has had a chance to grow back.
A lucky few trees were left untouched by the fire. The rest were probably torches until their fuel burnt out.
Here is Mr. Lonely Pine, wondering where his friends have gone. Why, and how, was he spared?
What will happen to these acres of charred logs? It must take many years for them to fulfil the “ashes to ashes” ritual.
And someday the forest will regenerate and once again host insects, rodents, birds, reptiles, and small mammals (and a few big ones like these cattle).
But see how dry and long the grass is. The highway passes close by here. Be aware if you’re a smoker, and don’t toss out your cigarette butt, no matter how sure you are that it’s out.
They’ve named me Mr. Lonely Pine
And they are not so wrong,
I pine away and sometimes whine
If wind blows all day long.
I’m one of few surviving trees
Untouched by raging fire,
You should have seen it when the breeze
Whipped flames up even higher.
I stood in terror, trembling,
Of course I could not run,
So I began dissembling,
And twiddling my thumbs.
I squeezed my eyes shut, every branch
Was shivering in fright,
Next thing I knew, upon the ranch
The blaze burnt out that night.
And still alive I praised the gods
That spared me yet a while,
I wondered how I’d beat the odds,
I couldn’t help but smile.
I whispered like a pine must do
To coax the baby trees,
And soon they sprouted and they grew,
And now they’ve reached my knees.
I’m not so lonely anymore
These young ones chat with me,
And contrary to old folklore,
I talk, though I’m a tree.
I want to warn you if you drive,
A cigarette can kill,
To throw it out while it’s alive
Can burn the whole dang hill.
So let’s all take a bit of care
Bad endings you have seen,
If you are handling fire, beware
To keep our forests green.