The flowers bloom amongst the burnt trees scattered in the valley, showing the world that tragedy lasts only for a moment in time. Ash whisks through the air with the wind as my boots disturb its resting place. Birds land on the blackened trees, chirping and bringing life to the otherwise desolate scenery.
I move slower than normal, taking in each vantage point and allowing the scars of a wildfire move me deeper in thought. My daughter and I head towards the river.
The wind is ripping through the valley and tatters my hair- it’s refreshing and intimidating at the same time. The path I walk on is scattered with sticks and piles of burnt sage brush, it feels eerie, as if walking through the aftermath of a war zone looking for survivors. Yes, the flowers are growing, but the fire remnants are still dark and visible.
My daughter asks me,
“What happened here mom?”
I explain the history of the valley and how a forest fire blew through this area, consuming the trees and bushes. And then the mud slides rolled down from the hills because there were no trees to hold it in its place. After time passes, life starts to grow again. It will never be the same, but it will be beautiful in its own way.
“I am about going to cry”, my daughter says in her sweet 6 year old language.
I respond unexpectedly,
We walk to the river’s edge and sit on the shore to watch the water moving swiftly down the valley. With the wind at our backs, my daughter grabs my hand and we sit, listening to the wind and watching for signs of the majestic South Fork of the Boise Rainbow trout. The wind slows down and I can hear crickets buzzing and the clouds have parted to provide a burst of sunshine that warms our shoulders. What felt dark and dreary moments ago, now appears more alive, hopeful, and peaceful, as if nature all around me was telling me, “It’s OK. It’s now OK”.
I try not to, but tears form in my eyes. The wind always has a way of bringing me to deeper thoughts because of its invisible power and unexpected strength. But this is not just the wind speaking at me:
It’s the dark burnt trees that are still reaching for the sky.
It’s the piles of ash that are being covered up slowly by new plants growing.
It’s the flowers that circle around these symbols of death, and are blooming where everything once was desolate.
It’s the river that has washed all of the ash out of it’s pathway in order to provide clean nourishment for regrowth and to call back the animals that have fled.
I remember the wildfires in my own life- my objection to their path, my wondering if life could ever go on from those painful moments, doubtful that anything could be beautiful again. But just like the new life in this valley, change happened, healing came through, and waters refreshed what I thought would be dead forever. The ash that remained, nourished my re-growth and I grew a different direction than what I may have planned for myself before the flames.
I look over at my daughter who is taking in the moment as I am. I take a deep breath and thank God for the wildfires in my life and for this reminder- that I should look back sometimes at those dark moments to acknowledge that life does grow again. Sometimes what I see as impossible, God has a way of making possible in His own way, in His own time.
A fish slaps the water. My daughter jumps up and points at the water. We both smile.
They made it through the fire- and they are thriving.
He has made everything beautiful in it’s time. Ecclesiastes 3:11
South Fork of the Boise River, Idaho