Last year in June, a large number of fires, all started by lightning, were burning all over California. This included several devastating fires in the Los Padres National Forest. The area is rugged, and the steep mountains mad access difficult, so the fires were mostly allowed to run their cause. Unfortunately, Tassajara was right in the middle.
For several weeks last summer, those of us who know and love Tassajara watched things unfold. First the residents prepared by adding sprinklers, fed by the creek, to the roofs of all buildings. Then additional pumps and fire hoses were purchases. Still, in the end, the fires were deemed to dangerous and evacuations started. Everyone left, except for five monks (including the abbot and the directory of Tassajara), who turned around at the top of the ridge when they were told they would not be allowed back in. The monks fought small burns with the fire hoses and refueled the pumps that kept the roofs wet, saving Tassajara.
When we returned this year, we found the landscape completely changed.
Where dense forest had been, we saw black branches with a shimmering of green and white.
Trees are resprouting from the bottom, but much of the green shimmer is a Phacelia that requires smoke to germinate (I believe it's Phacelia cicutaria -- carterpillar phacelia -- but I'm not quite sure). Imagine, the seeds might lie dormant for twenty years, and then thousands of flowers open, all in one glorious spring. Far fewer flowers the next year, and even less the year after. The back to sleep.
And everywhere, this contrast. Stark burnt branches.
And an amazing abundance of Calochortus albus (globe lilies). Usually, I'm trilled to see one, now, there were twenty in one spot.
Black branches, some of them sprouting green. The grandfather oak along the way down to Tassajara was miraculously bringing forth new branches. Yet other trees stood witness of the devastation.
Change everywhere. More mosquitos than usual at Tassajara because many of the bats had fled or been killed. But also an abundance of birds, enjoying the mosquitos and finding the best nesting holes in the green trees close to the creek.
I'm closing the post with a special photo Mr. Mouse took on a hike he took while I worked. Here's a Papaver californica (Fire poppy).
Bright orange, and different from the regular California poppy in flower, seedhead, and leaves. A special treat brought by the fire, which has been teaching change in so many ways.