Here in California the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains has been on fire and burning up for about the past ten days. El Dorado County, below Tahoe, and North east of Placerville. Thousands of people have been evacuated, including myself. Several thousand fire fighters have been working hard to try and control the fire. As of this writing it has burned 95,000 acres, or about 150 square miles. The fire crews have been doing a heroic job. And finally the rains, along with thunder and lightning, have come to put a final benediction on their efforts.
I’ve very seldom seen thunder and lightening storms such as these; some of the thunder so violent that it has been shaking my house like a cardboard box sitting on the ground near a jackhammer. The lightning so powerful that it’s been lighting up the sky, illuminating the dark as if it were a movie-set back lighted for effect in the filming of an old Twilight Zone episode. Just when we thought it was safe to go back in the woods.
This recent night sky extravaganza puts any man-made 4th of July celebration to shame, dwarfing and overshadowing it like the Grand Canyon might upstage the nearby American River canyon that the fire traveled so rapidly, and so indiscriminately, through in its quest for more fuel. It has served to remind me that nature has the power to create and to destroy. It has the capacity to both comfort and frighten us. It will turn on us with a change of mood in a minute, and it will settle into a predictable temperament at times to allow us some respite from its mood swings.
The fire destroyed an abundance of wildlife here in the mountains. Some homes, some hope, and some dreams. But it will regenerate in time, and it will bring forth new hope with the new growth, new homes where the old ones once stood, and new dreams for new people; for some old timers as well. Wildlife that escaped the inferno will in time return to their old stomping grounds to find fresh buds and new shoots to munch on. It will take a season, but the seasons will continue to arrive, and to change, as they always have. Time does not follow our schedule, but its own.
Nature has shown that it is stronger and more powerful than we are, more determined to have its own way, and to expresses itself exactly as it pleases. The devastating fire of which I speak was supposedly started by a man. And men and women helped to control it as best they could until nature arrived with a timely downpour to finish the job, and, as I said, to pronounce a final benediction on their efforts.
What was demonstrated to me again, and what I take away from this brutal happenstance, is that people, though easily subjugated to the awesome power of nature, though misplaced, displaced, and threatened by ruin continued to look out for one another, to care about each other. They truly do care about one another. And that is a strength not only equal to, or greater than, the power of nature, but also a profound demonstration of power of a different nature.
Call it human nature, if you will.
Or call it love.