So often when we think of fire it evokes fear, yet when we think of water we think of streams and lakes and things of beauty. If we think again, we can be reminded that fire brings us warmth and floods are caused by water. The truth is, we need both in life where things must be in balance.
Photographing prescribed burns has become something I am known to do. It amazes me that I will literally step over an orange blaze and onto freshly charred earth in order to capture a shot. There is amazing beauty in fire with its flames rising upward and the smoke it leaves behind. When you add the play of light and shadows it becomes this photographer’s dream.
We have been taught to fear fire, yet water is just as dangerous. I speak from experience as faulty plumbing caused our home to flood almost a year ago, leaving me to assume that a total home renovation due to a flood is as traumatic as one caused by fire.
Just as dams and levees help us restrain water, fire breaks and good wind conditions with proper humidity levels help us restrict fire. There are species of plants and animals that depend on fire. Before man started trying to control nature, forests had regular fires due to lightening and those fires protected the diverse plants and animals that lived there. Quail, the gopher tortoise, the indigo snake, Bachman’s sparrow, wiregrass, carnivorous plants, pine trees and so much more are fire dependent. If you are curious about fire, watch A Forest in Balance created by the Alabama Forestry Commission, the Southern Group of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service. Link to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for excellent info on fire ecology, and the fine folks at the Tall Timbers Research Station are always a good resource when it comes to pine trees.
As one who loves to spend time in pine forests, I have been fortunate in this past year to have been invited on quail hunts. Thanks to people who understand the importance of fire, there are places where quail can thrive and the upland bird hunter can walk amongst the pines, watch dogs do what they were born to do, and enjoy the company of others under a beautiful sky. As John Norman of Quailridge Plantation told me, “Shooting a quail is just a period at the end of the sentence.” For some, a stroll amongst pitcher plants or a sighting of a red-cockaded woodpecker for their life list may be what they treasure about the well maintained forest.
However you choose to engage - GET OUTSIDE. Revel in the balance of nature and all of its wonders. My camera and I are looking forward to experiencing the recently opened spaces rich with ash where seeds can now sprout new growth thanks to fire. And water will nourish them.
It’s all about balance.