The landscape after a wildfire like the one we had is very interesting. It’s very quiet because all of the animals have moved to safer ground or, sadly, been consumed by the fire. It’s very ashy and very black. The smell is overwhelming – a combination of lingering smoke from the fire that is still burning in trees and underground and the ash from the burned grass, trees, and soil itself. Imagine yourself sitting next to a fireplace when a gust of wind comes down the chimney and blows smoke and ash in your face. It’s like that – not as intense, but more pervasive and constant.
On one of my first hikes, just days after our return from being evacuated from the ranch, I went into a very badly burned part of the forest. I had seen a thin wisp of smoke from the area and wanted to be certain that we didn’t need to call the fire department to come put out a smoldering fire.
The smoke was coming from this tree. It looked like a dragon breathing smoke. When I looked into it, I could see the actual flames. It was in no danger of restarting another catastrophic fire because it was in an area that was badly burned.
The bark on the trees looked like molten silver. As I walked on, I realized how many doghair thickets we had had and how they fueled the fire.