Monday, February 07, 2011

Fire on the Mountain

Yesterday we ventured to Roanoke to run errands. As we drove into Daleville, which is some 12 miles from where I live, I pointed toward a plume of smoke and noted that something was burning back toward the house. As we drew closer, we saw that Caldwell Mountain was on fire.

As I noted yesterday, we're in a mild drought, so this fire is not surprising. It is a little early in the season for such fires, though, particularly with snow still in the hollows.

Around 7:20 a.m. I walked outside in my robe to see if the fire still burns. Across the way the rising sun created a rose-tinted reflection on the windows of the old Sprinkle house, making it look like it was afire itself. I started three deer browsing in the small patch of woods in the backyard, and they trotted off with an air of disgust at having their breakfast interrupted by this interloper in blue. They did not move quickly enough to indicate they were scared of me and so I was sure they simply wanted a little distance between us. I hadn't had a shower yet, so who could blame them?

More deer grazed off in the distance in the field beside the house. Yesterday we saw lots of does; nine of them lay in the field in front of the house, simply resting there. They stayed for a long time. I thought about shooting video of them but figured if I went outside I would rouse them and so I just let it be.

Either the fire is out or it has moved down the mountain where I cannot see it because of the tree line. The news reports from last night indicated two acres had burned and the forest service was having trouble reaching the blaze. But perhaps overnight they were able to put out the flames.

Mountain fires fascinate and horrify me. They are scary because they are uncontrolled, and they leave behind a blackened, charred mess. However, fire also brings about life, for Mother Nature quickly steps in and returns things to green. Sometimes this brings in different wildlife and changes in habitat. So fire is an agent of change.

Change is not bad, but it not something many folks easily accept (myself included). Change can be fascinating and horrifying, too. Sometimes, like fire, it is all-consuming, taking everything in its path. Other times it is like the aftermath, looking like a moonscape, foreign and cold. And other times, change is welcoming and creative, offering new growth and bounty.

Burn, baby, burn.


  1. I always hate to see burned over areas when we go to the mountains.

    I wish the deer around here were a little less skittish. All we ever catch is a glimpse as the race off for cover. Of course, if they weren't so scared, they would have been killed by now.

  2. Nearby fires would make me very uneasy. I wonder if fire is an archtype.


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