Yesterday, gusts shook the timbers of this old house, ripping down from the heights., threatening renewal of the fire. But for the first time since spring, the winds brought water, dropping an inch of snow on the leading edge. There are isolated hot spots returning, and felled trees will smolder for longer than one thinks possible, but more rain and snow are forecast. The smoke has cleared and winter will abate the remaining combustion.
But the policies of fire surpression that let fuel gather in the understory remain embedded in beauracracy. Forest management experts have championed more aggressive prescribed burns for decades, their recommendations muffled by property owners, liability insurance, litigation.
All the well-meaning forces of a society that seek to control risk lead to an uncontrollable cascade of energy release. Collectively, we must accept that fire is natural, inevitable, healthy even. Expect it, plan for it, harness it, lest we be consumed by our own hubris that we are beyond the laws of nature.
But today, I’m just breathing easier.