The fecund black earth smells like creation itself. A recent drought allowed a temporarily walkable crust to develop in this wet head where we have not been since before Hurricane Ivan trashed Pensacola in September, 2004.
The ebony surface is shiny, like licorice, and will turn into slippery muck after the next rain.
These low, damp places are connected via pathways of choking pale gray dust that swirl upward with each footfall on the newly plowed fire line.
We walk westerly for a time, and the brilliant late afternoon autumn sun slants into the dark woods like windshield glare. I want to look all around, but am forced to avert my eyes . I dodge thorny vines hanging down from branches and punji stick roots sticking up where Victor, the forestry guy, has busted them into springy pieces with his fire line plow.
I crack an aromatic bay tree leaf under my nose and inhale: victory in the games, the hope of immortality or at least a sentient recycling.