Spring Burning and Thoughts of China

Driving from our cabin on the Jacks Fork a few days ago, March 17, I felt I was back in Rockies. South of US60 the horizon near Blue Buck Mountain seemed engulfed in huge forest fires. We had been west several years ago and saw monster clouds near Los Alamos from blazes that killed a number of firefighters.

The Ozarks are different than western forests and their recent fires. We rarely get crown fires. Our forest fires stay on the ground and don’t engulf whole trees.

This fire was probably set by the Conservation Department or the Forest Service on lands they manage.

I called friends who live nearby. They weren’t worried. Just a spring thing. Burning the woods is an old Ozark tradition.

While working at our cabin I was tempted to start a small fire in a clearing created by tornadoes that came through in 2009. We have some prairie grasses doing well, but the poverty grass is doing better. Wish I had time to set that back and release other species.

It’s tempting to mess around with the forest and its understory to promote certain plants. But my efforts seem so miniscule in the vast unfolding process of spring in the Ozarks.

I ended up cutting down an oak that could eventually shade our solar collectors. It was a good challenge, but our neighbor Sam Gifford came by and supervised where to drop the oak.

I hate cutting down trees. But I know they can grow back very quickly. By the time I come back they will all be leafed out.

Winter officially ended a few days ago. By April Fools Day I will be in China with a chance to teach some Ozark oral history.

But I will have not forgotten the fires of spring. Winter this year has lasted far too long. I am ready for a change. I’m ready for China. Smoke and clean air remain huge issues everywhere. Too much heat from climate change. Everything is changing so fast there, I know from four previous trips.

Fresh water is a huge problem for China.  They have to be smart engineers and work with nature.

It’s changing in the Ozarks too, just not quite so fast. We are lucky to have plenty of good, clean air and water, unless a crazy political administration develops shortsighted policies..

3 thoughts on “Spring Burning and Thoughts of China”

  1. Always enjoy your posts Alex, keep them coming!
    Hope you are enjoying China, and will be writing about it soon.

  2. I read your article and I like it very much. It sees casual, but real and meaningful. Both Chinese and Americans are good, but conflicts are inevitable, because culture is a concept that is difficult to understand thoroughly. Culture influences people’s perception of others. Too many people use visiting scenic to replace the understanding of culture. This shallow understanding of habits has caused too much regret. The world needs people who respect culture and have a patient understanding of history. Just like you.

    I am woody, we met at the Springfield museum exhibition this May. You gave me a business card, I found it today, you are a respectable person, doing something profound. Thank you for your work! I hope one day we can work together.

    1. Thank you for this comment Woody. I hope you are having some luck looking for a job. I enjoyed talking with you a few weeks ago and am impressed with your work. You are a wonderful painter. I will be traveling some this autumn, but will keep in touch if you write an e-mail or text. All good luck, Alex

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