Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March Madness

     Slightly over two weeks out from the disastrous Starbuck Wildfire sees the land sprouting back to life. The worst wildfire in Kansas recorded history scorched nearly 670,000 acres of Clark and Comanche county's finest ranch lands. Thousands of head of livestock, thousands of miles of fencing, homes, outbuildings, wildlife and human lives were lost in Oklahoma and Kansas. Some ranches may not recover. Yes, it is bad. But the green hope is sprouting from the ashes. I'll attempt to help convey that sense--a sense of hope, responding, rebuilding, replacing, recovering. The land has done this for eons. It's our challenge to see if our rural society can duplicate nature's tendency. There is little doubt in the Red Hills that the rural community will!
     The Ashland Cemetery overlooks a meadow of green hope springing up after the March lion blazed through this region on the 6th day of the month.

A parched land has suffered from lack of rain in the Red Hills then receives further insult
from this wildfire. Nature considers it natural. The human residents see it a bit differently.

Momma with a newborn calf awaits a hay delivery in a barren landscape.

American currant blooms provide assurances that spring is indeed here in spite of a stark, burned background.

New grass in a road ditch keeps uneasy company with encroaching sand from the neighboring field.
Wind is a huge worry while everyone and everything awaits some rain to stimulate regrowth
and protection from erosion.

The only thing more welcome than rain is green, and the red soil of the Red Hills complements it quite well.

This fire wind was so intense, it was able to jump Clark State Fishing Lake. 

Lizard tracks in wind-blown sand impart an optimism of nature
or rather a simple reality that life goes on.

The sand reveals some feathered friends who have survived the inferno--
Ring-necked pheasants in this case.  
Unfortunately, a fire like this denudes the land and exposes fragile soils
to wind erosion which can fill roadside ditches. A little rain would go a long ways right now!

The resiliency of the grassland is embodied in the new green shoots of yucca.
Some think the land is always beautiful, in any stage of year, weather, and recovery.

     Yes, March Madness has a certain meaning to most of us. But this year's madness in the Red Hills brought about a fiery lion bent on destruction. It accomplished its goal. Now the land, the wildlife, and the people are in a recovery mode. While March may leave like a lamb, hope is for a water-logged one that lingers for a few days and gives the land its desperately needed lifeblood.

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