Friday, November 09, 2012

Shorter days move in

The long shadows stretched through the dry chert woods to the crest of the ridge on Thursday afternoon. I tried to set out early that day to check firelines, to walk through the woods with the constant swooshing of my bedraggled running shoes through the flammable, fluffy oak leaves that curl and bend in a way that accepts fire so willingly (as most oak woodlands are wont to do in the Ozark Highlands in November). It was nearing 3pm and my camera's flash was activated on a barren, an exposed ridgetop that only a few weeks ago was loaded in an explosion of light and color--asters, goldenrods, the last of the Silphiums. Today, white fluffy seed heads are all that remain of the suite of glade composites, and by 3:30, the winter shadows moved in, socking in the landscape in gray and chill. Winter botany in a high quality (frequently burned) landscape, one rich with long-lived perennial forbs, can be challenging with the distinguishing leaves and arrangement desiccated and fallen off a stalk of goldenrod. I'm brushing up on my winter twigs to prepare for deer browse surveys, which are growing increasingly important as a way to track Missouri's destructive, overabundant (and out of historical context) deer populations in light of our lack of 4" snowfalls (which allow for aerial censuses).

Fire season is upon us--you can feel it upon stepping out into the morning air. The crunch of the leaves, the relative humidity that is distinguishable as good fire weather. After this summer's much- politicized wildfire season, many are a little gunshy of rushing into rx fire season again. But it is an ancient process, fire, the results unable to be replicated any other way. It should be implemented carefully, responsibly, within prescription, with the greater goals of ecosystem restoration and the protection of biodiversity as the driving forces, not politics.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Re: Politics and Burns,
“There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say "It is yet more difficult than you thought." This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”
― Wendell Berry