Thursday, April 9, 2009

Beauty after the fires

Last Fall we witnessed several scary and devastating fires a few miles from our neighborhood. Many homes were lost and our beautiful hillside was blackened. In the direct path of destruction was my favorite local park called O’Melveny Park. It’s like an oasis from the city, full of beauty, quiet, and nature - a total treasure for local hikers and residents...and my family. The area just feels special to me, I can’t explain it.

Unfortunately, our worst fears were realized when we drove by a few days later after the fires were out and saw the vegetation around the entrance blackened, the wood archway entrance sign unrecognizable, and the park closed. Fond images of the cute jack rabbits, trapdoor spiders, glorious huge eucalyptus trees, bridges, grassy area were all destroyed in my mind. I was crushed and very sad.

A few days ago I got the courage to go back to O’Melveny to see for myself what was left and how bad the damage was. I was nervous and curious and felt compelled to go, but feared the worst. What greeted us just past the entrance was a single burnt orange tree amid a sea of fragrant orange blossoms blooming on the dozens of trees left untouched by fire. Further in we saw intact bridges over the flowing stream, green trees, grass – all these things were still there and unscathed. Of course we saw lots of burnt hillsides and trees, but overall I was smiling wide and breathing a sigh of relief everywhere we went. My beloved park was more than fine – it was totally thriving.

The most magnificent of all was one particular area that got completely charred but was covered in beautiful wildflowers. All you could see were the blackened remains of trees among countless blue and yellow flowers. It was almost unreal. The birds were chirping and the lizards were sunning and the ladybugs dotted the colorful landscape.

Now, I know it may sound a little weird to be so happy about this kind of stuff, but, well, it just touched my soul. To see first hand how nature bounces back is beyond humbling and surreal. All those months of feeling the loss of this place was instantly replaced with gratitude and awe. I’m grateful those firefighters did such a fine job saving this treasure and that I can share this appreciation with my children. I feel much much better now.

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