Saturday, April 26, 2008

Arbor Day

It used to be a cool hike on a hot summer day, winding along a trickling creek shaded by huge old Jeffrey pines. Kharma loved to alternate jumping the creek like a squirrel on a pogo stick and wading through it like a determined salmon. She'd gambol uphill and come crashing down at full speed through the loose soil. Inevitably she looked more like a chocolate lab than a blonde border collie when she was finished.

Then came the fire. It roared through the little drainage, consuming bushes and trees, cracking rocks with its heat. The windstorm it created scattered huge chunks of charcoal on our yard.

Today was the first time I'd been back. The lower approach was an unfamiliar-looking lunar landscape of blacks and greys. Gradually the trail wound upwards through what remained of the forest. So many of the century-old pines were blackened and sad. The fire crews' stellar efforts saved many of the larger trees. Yes, they had many toasted branches, but the tops were still green and the trunks weren't charred down below. They had a hopeful air.

Kharma and I were part of a community effort to re-forest Alum Creek. We had ten baby pine trees to plant with our team, a dad and his fourth grade son. We dug deep, planted tenderly, mounded soil and mulched with rock. The fourth grader acted as water boy, carrying water uphill from the creek to "our" trees.

Kharma pogo-sticked over the creek and splashed happily through the water as usual. She looked in vain for birds, lizards and squirrels to chase. She had black socks before long as the ash and charcoal began to coat her wet legs.

We're dirty and tired but happy. The century-old pines cannot be replaced easily or quickly, but we plan to nurture our baby trees, watering them through the summer, mulching them to retain moisture and watching them grow year by year.

Someday, someone else will take their dog for a walk through a cool and shady forest next to the stream. That'll be our reward. That, and this simple poem we found posted on a fence enroute. It resonated, especially on a day like this one:

Work like you don't need the money.
Love like you've never been hurt.
Dance like no one is watching.
Live like it's heaven on earth.



  1. What a great thing to do for Earth Day! I bet it was a beautiful place to hike, and thanks to you will be again!

    I love the poem....

    Woofs, Johann

  2. What a fabulous earth day, and it'll be rewarding to watch the new forest take shape, too. That's the most amazing thing about nature, watching it rebuild itself!