Thursday, June 16, 2016

meadow’s recovery, eighth goat,
mega-fires and idiots, fireplace, and
it was a dark and stormy night



I was out on a hike one morning and came across an older couple on the trail. We stopped and talked about a number of things. I love when this happens. They’re from British Columbia so I asked if they lived near Hope (where Jim and Barb live). They live a bit north of Hope in Lytton, BC. The town was named after Edward Bulwer-Lytton, the man who wrote, “It was a dark and stormy night.” That got a smile from me.


Meadow was injured more than I originally thought by that feral cat. After 3 or 4 weeks, she did not seem to be getting any better, still hobbling around on three legs. I took her to another vet in the town we were then near and she said there might have been nerve damage from the bite. It might heal in time and it might not. I asked if it would help if I worked on moving the leg from time to time. So there I was, doing physical therapy on a cat. One day I asked Meadow if she wanted to go for a walk and she perked right up; it had been a month since our last walk. She went along, slowly, hobbling on three legs. After 5 minutes, she was wiped, laid down in the shade and rested. She was up for a walk again the next day and every day since. After a few days, she started to put the fourth leg down for a step or two. Three months later, she’s almost up to snuff, but still occasionally favors the injured leg.


Just because I get out of the mummy bag in the morning, doesn’t mean M&M are going to leave it. Last month they waited until I lit the Wave 6 and it had a chance to warm things up.


Here’s the artesian well water outlet I was told about. One gets somewhat spattered and muddy while filling the containers but the water sure tastes good.

Bryan Garner, a grammarian, points out that a common idiom is wrong. It’s not,
‘If you think X, you’ve got another thing coming.’
It should be, ‘If you think X, you’ve got another think coming.’
As he explains it, “X is wrong, so eventually you’re going to think Y.”
Oh, okay.

For the summer solstice I purchased another goat. My Heifer International total is now eight goats, two flocks of chicks, one flock of geese, two flock of ducks, and a ‘Gift of a Healthy Home.’ Next donation will be on the fall equinox.


I came across this lizard while out on a run. Blends in well. Sure glad these animals are not 8’ long.

There has been a couple of mega-fires in this area, both started by people. Back in 2002, an Apache set a fire northeast of Cibecue, west of here, on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. The following morning the wind picked up. Not good. One day later, not all that far away, another fire was started. A lost hiker was wandering for three days, dehydrated and panicked. She heard a helicopter and started a signal fire, which quickly grew out of control. The two fires merged; there was no way firefighters were going to be inserted between them to try to keep the fires apart. Firefighter safety is most important.

Humidity, fuel, wind, terrain, and oxygen are factors that contribute to a wildfire’s spread. Sometimes they are all just right (or all just wrong), and you can end up with a mega-fire. For this wildfire, all factors were at a maximum. The mega-fire scorched 468,000 acres. After a couple weeks, the fire dropped over the rim. The density of the forest changed, the land sloped down and the geography of the fire shifted enough to bring it to an end. 1,900 firefighters, helicopters, air tankers, fire engines, dozers, water trucks, and four incident-management teams were involved in the containment and the fire had an estimated cost of $308 million.

In 2011, two campers were in the Bear Wallow Wilderness, south of Alpine, southeast of here. One morning, after thinking their campfire was out, they went off on a hike. For some reason they left their two blue heelers tied up at their campsite, which led to the burning to death of their pets. When the cousins returned, smoke and flames made it impossible to reach their site.

This fire burned 538,000 acres and required more than 4,000 firefighters to contain it, along with helicopters, bulldozers, fire engines and water tenders. It cost an estimated $109 million to contain.

Forests need fires to keep them healthy and fires have been part of the system for eons. Trees, flowers, and grasses revive. A few months after these fires grasses and ferns and the shoots of young aspens emerged from the soot. New wildflowers bloomed in meadows that have been touched by the fire. But also, there is the flooding and erosion.

At this point there is no consensus on how to manage forests to reduce the likelihood for these mega-fires. Some factions believe that thinning the forests is the answer. It seems to make sense, and I like the feel of camping out in forests that have been thinned. However, in the past, in many areas, such as this area, when they went in to harvest timber, they focused on the logging of large trees. Not the best option for the forest. Studies have shown that it’s not the big, old-growth trees that burn most during a fire; it’s the small trees, under 16” or so in diameter, in additio to grasses and low shrubs. And often, areas that have been logged, leaving the little stuff to burn and taking the big, fire-resistant trees, are the areas with the most fire damage.
So many say thinning does not work. But I think now, smaller trees are being harvested rather than the big old-growth trees. This should help.

Then there is the issue of prescribed-burns, part and parcel of forest-health policies. The purpose of which is to maintain low levels of needles, dead leaves and other ground debris that provides fuel for a wildfire. Again, to me, this sounds good, but there is controversy. Prescribed-burns are not intended to prevent fire; rather, their purpose is to reduce intensity to the point that structures are at greatly reduced risk and firefighters can safely work in close proximity to the fire when conducting suppression activities.

Whatever has been done over the decades with forest management has not been working in many areas. Thankfully, there is quite a bit of focus on the problem, with ongoing research and studies. The bigger issue, however, is probably climate change. Moderate drought, drier winters and warmer springs mean less moisture on the land and more in the air, turning brush and grass into kindling. Power to the people who have to juggle all these factors to come up with a plan that will work. Unfortunately, as long as there is lightning and idiots, there will be wildfires, but hopefully, as some point, fewer mega-fires.

Okay, that’ll do it.

How much thought went into naming the place in one’s house, where one can have a fire?
I had a vision of a Neanderthal pointing down, and grunting.

May sixty minutes sixty years—1880 minutes
May Triple 18—pecs/delts: 2130; core: 2160; legs: 2100

We don't stop playing because we grow old;
we grow old because we stop playing.
George Bernard Shaw


RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

RVwest article ‘The Spaces Between the Places’

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