Burnout and Forest Fires

They happen, usually when they are least expected. Perhaps they were designed by the same force that created The Spanish Inquisition; nobody expected that. Sometimes it is the dryness of the world whilst at other times it is man creating destruction as entertainment. The same happens in more and more of us as our bankrupt ways of life yield nothing but physical and emotional overdrafts.

When the fire first came, I put it down to tiredness. I’d been working too hard on too many things. My plates were wobbling in the circular tragectory and I no longer had the strength to add to their safe orbits. One by one, they fell. Then there were only the naked poles standing before me, redundant and meaningless.

The main fire had begun somewhere in the past. It had caught and smoldered, damply burnt, pushed up smoke as if in signal, and had been ignored. Forests have carpets, so at some point I must have lifted it and placed the ashes beneath.

Years passed without warning; only an occasional whisper creeping out through the mesh of needles, leaves, and secret fungi. Nothing was read and nothing was learnt.

Then one night, in the midst of a storm, the hidden pyre began to take. Not just smoke but flames. And the flames became bolder, more adventurous, vengeful. Soon the trees were their conduits. Soon the earth burnt. Before time had managed to pass, the very skies were aflame.

In the morning, only sulphur clung to my memory.

Many things died in that fire. Things of the forest: great trees, animals large and small, the very edge of heaven. And I woke in a smog of confusion, not knowing what I was or how I got there. For many years I wandered in the savage reminder of nature.

I searched the woods, I searched the gullies, I forgot about the carpet.

On my search, I came across small enclaves of survivors. Nature had, in all of its power, decided to leave some thing standing. A thicket of young spruce climbed to meet the morning rays, a clump of ground flowers paraded themselves, and a distant sound of movement betrayed the existence of feet.

Things have their time for burning and their rebirth. Nothing is forever. Everything passes.

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