July 14, 2008

Resilience: Wildfires in a Friendly Universe

As you are probably aware, California is burning. This is not unusual for the Golden State, although the fires began a couple of months before the "official wildfire season." Because of extreme dryness, this year's fires have been particularly virulent.

My city, Santa Cruz, has not gone down in flames, but surrounding areas have had major damage: Big Sur, Big Basin, the Summit fires, Carmel Valley. Even downtown near the water, our morning air has that distinctive smell of a lumberyard combined with a fireplace. Many homes have been lost or damaged; no human deaths, but many animals have perished. The sky is as hazy as any smog day in Los Angeles, and it's been difficult for those with respiratory problems to breathe.

My thanks to Kathy Loh, a coach who lives in the Santa Cruz mountains near me, for posting this to the Co-active Network. The source is the Humboldt Redwoods State Park literature:

"Coast redwoods do not have a single taproot. Instead, they form a shallow network of relatively small roots that extend radially, up to a hundred feet from the base. The ends of the roots are fibrous, allowing them maximum surface area to obtain moisture and nutrients. If a flood buries the roots too deeply in silt, they have the ability to grow and explore their way upward toward more oxygenated soil. In addition to root collar burl sprouting, coast redwood also reproduces from seed. Flowering occurs in December and January with cones maturing over the spring and summer. In the autumn, the cones open on the trees and, on the average, 50 to 100 tiny seeds sprinkle out. Seedlings survive best in exposed mineral soil that often occurs as a result of fire, flood and uprooted trees."

Some of our coastal redwoods are older than Jesus. I love visiting these trees. They've seen and survived through a lot. They are not only resilient, they continue to grow because of "disasters."

As do we.

©2008 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.

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