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An idea for renewal

By on January 9, 2018 in Featured, Notes about Nature

[a haiku]

The Great Burn surrounds.
A feral pause in the scorched.
Stillness in stirred ash.

As one of the thousands of Ojai residents struck hard by the Great Burn of the Thomas Fire, I offer an idea for how we can come together with one another and with the land as it goes through its renewal. Yes, there is an ache deep in my bones, and I know that what comes next will be different than what was.

Yet we can creatively and communally document the renewal. My suggestion is that those interested, and able, pick one favorite spot of wildness and visit it regularly, photograph it regularly, and perhaps write about what you see, feel, sense, and smell. Any birds flying overhead? A lizard scratching in the ash? The first prick of a green blade of grass both gracious enough and strong enough to emerge? A new leaf?

This is all “a new leaf” for our beloved land. Renewal never means the same. Yet life will return–grass and shrubs, new trunks and rekindled canopies, native bouquets, hoof prints, the ribbon trail of a snake’s passing.

We can witness and record the rebirth. This is an idea without rules, yet hopefully, with enough zest to interest many of us to be with the changes that do emerge, and to record those changes however we feel called to do so. A chance to be present with the miracle of life in our beloved Ojai.

Katherine Holden, OVLC Member

Phoenix, Lurking

A twitch of air brings ash.
We dwell at the center
of the bull’s eye.
The town that did not burn
now holds the space ash surrounds.

Fired down to the rocks
so hot even rocks could not endure.
Some exploded others fell
in ways that rocks fall,
pitching forward split and cracked.
Splat down the mountainsides.
The ribs of the earth incapable of
holding.  On.

The metaphor of ash stashed
inside each of us
as the reality of ash is now
breathed into all, and falls
on broad estates and homeless
in equal measure.

Wind driven blowtorches of virulent
flame, fifty feet high, burned into California
history.  Such a devouring invites
more than the Biblical.

What I wonder – with all the burning
of shrub and fur, roots and hooves,
snouts and scales, antlers and canopies –
what kind of Phoenix lurks in this
soft ash rain that brushes the air
like a whisper in slow motion?

Katherine Holden

Please feel free to share your images and words with us as we watch our lands recover. We would love to hear from you.


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