Lisa Bondurant

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I spend my time raising kids, gathering eggs, cutting wood, scoping out trees for tapping, making syrup in the last days of winter, watching my garden NOT grow in the summer, writing, wishing that there were more hours on the clock for sleeping.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Calming Rain, A Restless Wind

Smoke and Fog mixing over Dry River gorge
   A cold brush on my cheek. The gentlest tap upon my shoulder. I turned to search for the quiet soul that had crept up on me. It was the rain. Quiet as a whisper, without a wind to travel on, it had slipped down from the high elevations while I was stacking wood. The rain, sinking down into the woods in a heavy, gray fog, promising to sooth the scorched earth.
  The Hotshot crews  from North Carolina are working along the side of highway 33. They pause to talk to us,  their yellow normex shirts stained with soot, their attitude very relaxed or very exhausted.  They tell us they would handover the fire to local crews the next day, because the rain is expected to secure the fire. The incident commander is a little more cautious on the evening news. He warns that the fire will burn deep in the duff and soil and must be managed for the next several weeks.
Chopper flying over the Chestnut Ridge fire, heading towards Peak Fire
  Well over three thousand acres have burned, nearly a thousand just in the Chestnut Ridge fire alone. Spreading the topo maps onto the dinner table, we are all surprised how close the two fires had come to merging. Now we know why the choppers were flying back and forth between the two fires. The fire fighters were trying hard to keep the two apart. The fires seemed almost desperate to meet, one crawling back against the prevailing wind as the other dodged and leaped around the fire fighters, running to catch it's partner.
  The roads leading back to the mountain side were finally opened again. Passing through, we were impressed with how close it had come to houses on the road. There was evidence of backfires lit along the roads' ditches, just stopping the fires from burning out into the farmlands. I will try to get in closer soon for better pictures.

Buffalo Road (War Branch) closed during fire
 The rain  was light and brief and did it's job of pressing down the fires, but then the winds returned.  Sixty mile an hour gust that threaten to dry the lands again. The swirling currents carry the smell of smoldering fires from deep in the woods. The wind also uncloaked the hoop house we are building for the laying hens, for the fourth time in a week.

 The chickens don't mind! They like running free in the yard. We mind, the Americauna hens are more wild then not and lay eggs deep in bushes and deadfall.
 Though they still use the door when coming in to drink water.
Rudy the rooster and one of his ladies.
The wind gust again and smoldering earth and leaves fills our noses, making us restless and uneasy. I wonder if the smell of forest burning stir instinctive fears in their wild brains, like it does ours!

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