The sun’s angle verifies that Buck and I were walking the fire line close to 4:30 this afternoon. I had to splay my feet and balance on laid over small branches to stay out of the shoe-sucking muck, that dark wet humus that drives home what the atmospheric word “fecund” is all about.
We walked through the valley of the shadow. Dead trees everywhere, some lying prone, broken in half over a hill of dirt, some standing, peeled of their bark, jagged elegant stumps. I swear the ground pumped their blood. I swear I could feel the spreading pulse under my feet.
A flash of coral caught my eye in the dark mucky sluice. I held the branch in one hand and pushed the camera’s round button with the other. Proof of life.
When we emerged from the canopied fire line back onto the main road towards home, the bright afternoon sun led me to a young Longleaf pine encircled by delicate wild blueberry blossoms, its growth tip ready to blast off.