However, I began thinking of the fires in California and all the displaced people and animals. I used to go to Paradise (not Pleasure) as a child visiting my grandmother on her ranch outside of Marysville. Nana had a friend living there in a nursing home. We would drive up the valley in “the machine” (as she called all her cars) watching the orchards and fields turn into grasslands, cut with ravines and stands of oak and pine as the land rose beneath us forming the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. It was slightly cooler in Paradise and there was always ice cream after my long wait in the car for the visit to end. (Nursing homes didn’t allow children in those days.)
On Monday at the dVerse Poets Pub, Guest Blogger, Imelda Santore, presented us with a finely crafted challenge, encouraging us to write about waiting. Waiting is one of my most challenging situations. I dislike it intensely. It is why I always carry a book. My idea of Hell is standing in line forever with nothing to read. I could actually say many things about waiting – it’s a great prompt. Lends itself to rant, romance and revenge…
Waiting is a human condition, there’s no waiting in nature – everything is happening, now, in the moment – it is always and forever what is.
People thrived in Paradise, playing, working. They are homeless now. Dependent on the charity of strangers. Waiting for insurance companies to pay out. Hoping their contracts are worth the precious paper they are written upon.
charred leaves fly upward
like paper goods sent skyward
to outfit the dead
The golden meadows lush with seed, alive with mule deer and turkey flocks are blackened now and sear. Brushfire burns so hot, so fast the oaks live on. Green canopies belie charred bark, the blackened ground below, the absent sound of myriad insects buzzing, whirring, clicking, scurrying.
turkeys cluck and coo
pecking among warm ashes
for flash-fried crickets
Jack pines, lodgepole pines and sequoias seal their pine cones in a layer of thick resin that requires the intense heat of wildfire to melt and release seeds. Seedlings root easily in the newly bared soil, open now to sun and rain. They sprout rapidly in nutrient rich ash.
beautifies fire-swept wastelands
born of fire she blooms
After Mount St. Helens erupted, her forests lay scattered like pick-up sticks across the slopes. But life barges back. Bare days after the fires cooled, rangers in orange Hazmat suits, taking temperature readings of the ground, were buzzed by hungry hummingbirds mistaking them for flowers.
flowers follow fire
sweet nectar and seed
The Amazon River floods periodically, spreading for miles across the jungle floor. Brazil nuts, too hard for boring beetles or determined mammals lie waiting for fish with nutcracker jaws to rupture the recalcitrant hulls and drop an occasional nut to sprout in the rich silt dropped onto nutrient poor soil by the flood.
nuts too hard to crack
fall into flooded waters
strong jaws snap seeds sprout
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