October 4, 2016

prescribed burn

Pack up all those phantoms
Shoulder that invisible load

Haunting that wilderness road
Like a ghost rider

Show me beauty but there is no peace
For the ghost rider

Shadows on the road behind
Shadows on the road ahead
Nothing can stop you now

It is my first weekend off in roughly four months.  By this point in my journey, I am thoroughly lost.  There is no cell phone service.  There is no map.  So I settle in and listen to the woods.  Off in the distance I hear a woodpecker.  The loneliness of the ratta-tat-tat echoes softly through the forest.  While I'm sitting there, I am filled with nothing but frustration at getting lost on a dirt logging road.  And drops of rain begin to fall.  I am not in my jeep and my car is far from equipped to handle this road if rain begins to fall.  And I notice the strangeness of this area.  Where is the underbrush?  At closer inspection, the trees have that characteristic black mark on the bottom, or at least the trees that have survived, of what follows a controlled burn.  I am in the middle of nowhere, on a dirt road, lost, threatened with rain and I realize I need a prescribed burn.  To clear out all the tinder that results in uncontrolled wildfires resulting in the destruction of the entire forest.  The metaphor of putting out catastrophic fires the last years of my life is not lost on me.  I take a few deep breaths of the pine scented air, climb back into my car, and methodically find my way back to civilization.