Page 9 - Georgia Forestry - Issue 3 - Summer 2020
P. 9

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This story is for foresters,
A strange society,
Who sometimes see the need to burn The ground beneath their trees.
The reason for this practice is
Often by scientists seen,
Who’ll tell you that sometimes a fire Is part of nature’s scheme.
You ever note how when a fire
Has crept across the land,
With one good rain and ten warm days The ground is green again?
That fire was used to clean the duff Collected down below.
The elements left in that ash,
Soon help the earth to grow.
Wild creatures there both large and small All quickly do return
To feast upon this tender browse
Left by a gentle burn.
But wildlife feed is not just why You burn beneath the trees,
It’s mostly done to clean out fuel— Avoid catastrophes.
Your trees have grown for many years, They’re stately and they’re tall
But down below, the brush grew too And made a prickly wall.
The needles that your trees have shed Along with chunks of bark,
Have lodged down there in vines and brush Just waiting for a spark.
And one fine day when it is dry,
A weather front comes in,
Sends dust clouds racing ‘cross the fields Before the howling wind.
Then on that day right near your trees, A young man drives his truck.
He’s ‘bout smoked down his cigarette So pitches out the butt.
The spark it gracefully descends Down to the grass below.
The cigarette soon breathes the wind, The ash it starts to glow.
The blaze right then is very small, It’s timid just at first,
But when it sees your trees and brush It flares up with a burst.
The brush and vines that have grown thick Will feed the blaze quite well
Until it is a tree tall fire,
An inferno from Hell.
It roars and groans and pops and cracks, Creates an atmosphere,
Of wind and whirling, burning sparks, Consuming all that’s near.
And when the raging beast is past,
The silence is profound,
For death and rocks and wisps of smoke Will seldom make a sound.
Next day when walking on your land Which once grew tall and graceful trees The only things your eyes see now
Are snags which smolder in the breeze.
If only you had burned that ground When moisture heat and wind were right, You’d not now see this sterile scene
Of smoking spires against the light.
A burn controlled is man’s attempt To mimic nature’s plan,
Except to choose the day that’s right To gently heat the land.
So when you see the foresters
String drops of fire near brush that’s dense, Know well that they do burn for all
To clear a line for self defense.
Forgive the vagrant sheets of smoke That may obscure the scene,
For this must be the price we pay To keep our forests green.
A fire is just a basic tool
You use with caution now and then For in the long life of a tree
It’s not just if a wild fire comes
But rather— it is when...
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