Thursday, July 03, 2008

Elsewhere Entirely : The Fire at Tassajara

Far away in time: nearly thirty years ago I lived at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center for five practice periods, two and a half years. Far away in how it is right now: all this water in my life; there they are waiting for the Basin Complex Fire to arrive, or not. And not so much difference, either way, from the perspective of the forest and the brushy hills, which are going to burn this time or next, and indeed mostly burned in 1977, the Marble Cone Fire. From the perspective of people, places that will never be the same in our lifetime are burning. On the Big Sur coast, infrastructures and livelihoods are burning; a few miles behind them in the mountains, the monastery buildings will burn, most likely; or perhaps be left saved in a wasteland of ash; breaking a lot of hearts either way.

Screen cap from the Forest Service's MODIS Active Fire Maps viewer, 6:30 AM

I never saw the Ventana Wilderness as it had been, it burned two years before I came; but hiked over the ridge my first or second summer and there was unburned forest in Willow Creek, huge trees. Burning now. "Several fire trucks, at least 15, sped by Jamesburg this afternoon from many different counties, including Contra Costa, LA and Ventura. Only two went all the way into Tassajara bringing in supplies such as hard hats and goggles and foam. The fires continue to creep towards Tassajara from the Willow Creek and Tasssajara Creek watersheds, and from the ‘Oryoki Bowls’ (the W, NW, and SW)."

Right now Firefighter Blog has the most recent image from GeoMac, and it's scary scary. The fire is doing what it pleases. The fire season has only just begun. Months more of this, in many other people's beloved places. Centuries more of it, as the earth warms. ZMC's page is posting a screen grab of the Forest Service's hourly CONUS data Google Earth file once a day. The Los Padres National Forest current conditions page missed yesterday's updates. They're busy. Tassajara's own page sometimes is most current, as in the quote above. The folks at Jamesburg are keeping a Sitting With Fire blog.

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