I witnessed something the other day that I had heard about, and had heard would possibly happen. It was amazing to see.
Last month, we traveled up through the mountains to see the damage that the wildfires had done. Things looked alien. It’s funny how you get used to seeing things a certain way, but you don’t realize it until it’s changed. That’s how this was. It was sad to see trees that should at least have the remnants of leaves still, standing bare and charred. Areas of rock that are normally covered in thick green moss and surrounded by brush lay exposed and appeared cold. As we wound along the mountain roads, we could see the spots that the airborne embers had laid to waste, decimating some areas, leaving others untouched. The damage seemed so random, but knowing how it spread, it made sense.
This weekend, we took another drive up through the same roads. The bare, burnt trees still greeted us. The rocks still lay exposed, the black patches on the mountain ahead still very much a visible reminder of what had occurred. But then we started noticing something else.
Grass, foliage, moss.
Think about the richest brightest shade of green you can imagine.
It seemed brighter than that.
At first, I thought it was just so bright against such a barren landscape. That it just stood out more against the browns and blacks of everything around it. No, it was definitely bright green.
I needed to know after the fires had happened what would happen next. I read about how the ash would fertilize the ground to promote regrowth. I read about areas that intentionally did controlled burns just to enrich the soil. I knew that the regrowth would happen, but I had no idea it would come so fast or look so vibrant.
I stood and looked at the overlook. The burnt, black tops of the mountain in the distance. The patchy, sparse trees in front of me. And the rich, bright green grass beneath my feet where ash had settled. I turned around and saw the trees behind me still standing with their bases and roots colored black, their bark white and leaves long gone. And yet, I was standing on grass that was more lush than I’d ever seen in any spring or summer of my existence.
As we traveled on up the mountain, things changed once more. As we got beyond the areas that the fire had touched, things looked as they always have. There was grass, but it wasn’t as vibrant or thick. The trees still held bits of their browned leaves, the rest of the leaves carpeted the floor around them. Rocks were barely visible underneath brush and moss. It looked like an average winter day. It looked nothing like the rebirth below.
Witnessing this did me a lot of good. It has reminded me that no matter what happens, life does continue. Horrible things happen and there’s no denying the seriousness of the situation. But sometimes after tragedy, parts come back even more beautiful than before. Just as the ash nurtures the soil, our experiences provide us with wisdom that promotes the new growth. Pretty soon we see rebirth hat emerges lush and full beneath our feet. The scars are still under it all, but we can heal beautifully.
I can’t wait to see what the mountains look like next month.