Wednesday, April 07, 2004
Things are looking up in the Southern
California burn areas. Weíve had some rain and the landscape is turning from
black to green. Wild flowers have sprouted and grass is growing. Since
October, after being scorched by the burning undergrowth, the evergreen oaks
have stayed completely brown. Now theyíve started to recover and leaves are
sprouting on the more protected higher branches. On the other hand, the
shorter scrub oaks faired less well and I expect they will be reminding us
for years about Octoberís fire storm. Even they have begun to sprout new
growth at ground level and in a few seasons their burned branches should be
overgrown. It been a depressing six months but spring is here and nature is
recovering with enthusiasm.
Before this valley was subdivided, it was a
seasonal campground for the Kumeyaay Indians, then it became a ranch and
finally it was broken up into 10 acre parcels. We were lucky enough to be
able to purchase two joining properties and weíve been working hard at
returning them to their former native environment. The previous owners were
horse people and the property was strewn with rotting corals, abandoned
chicken coops and rusty barbed wire strung haphazardly from tree to tree.
Old truck tires, car parts and abandoned appliances dot the landscape.
In a peculiar sort of way, the fire did us a big favor. Burned tires turn to
little clumps of manageable steel wires that easily go into the dumpster.
The denuded under brush has allowed me to wander the wooded areas with a
bolt cutter and Iíve been gathering up miles of barbed wire. The frames of
the chicken coops have burned away and Iíve been able to easily roll up the
left over chicken wire. Iíve been building trails in areas that were
previously inaccessible and my goal is to create a nature walk where we can
hike at least a short distance without seeing any signs of human habitation.
Itís fun and Iím actually having a good time.
Things are looking up in 2004 but in 1968 I
was obsessed with existentialist nausea. It was 25 years before Prozac and I
wish I could time travel back and give myself a dose.