Re-seeding the Forest
Why do we burn in the forest?
The forest here needs fire! Long ago, this forest would have naturally had fires come through every 10-20 years, mainly started by lightning strike. These fires were part of the natural ecology here - they would burn off the duff layer (leaves and pine needles that build up on the forest floor), burn off the lower branches of large trees, and kill small shrubby plants and trees. Older trees could survive these low-severity fires - both pines and oaks have thick bark that protect them, and oaks can resprout from the roots, even if the trees *seems* to die from a fire.
These frequent, low-severity fires kept the forest open, allowing light into the forest floor, and keeping the trees and other large plants with plenty of space between them. Because it is dry where we live, keeping space between the plants helps to make sure there is enough water for all of them. The fires and the plants (and the animals, and the people who have lived here for millenia) all evolved to live with the fires.
In the last 200 years or so, we have stopped letting fires burn naturally. Our policies have been to put fires out as soon as we can for the safety of neighborhoods, farms, and rural towns. Safety is super important of course! But what happened is that now the forests are overgrown with brush, crowded saplings, and thick shrubs and undergrowth. Now when fires come through, they are more likely to be hotter, high-intensity fires that are actually *more* dangerous and hard to manage.
So places like Ekone, lots of forest managers, and homeowners with lots of land, are all working together to help create healthier, more fire-resilient forests by doing the work of the fires ourselves! In the winter months, we work tirelessly to thin out dense areas, limb up tall trees, and remove much of the shrubby overgrown undergrowth. We collect all of that and burn it in piles and VOILA - forest transformation!
Re-seeding the Forest
Here in the video, you can see Rivers and Dani (along with Dylan and Lupine’s help!) re-seeding the burn piles with a mix of grass and flower seeds that would naturally grow in areas like this. That new growth will keep the forest thriving and feeling like itself! This loving care of the forest is part of what keeps the magic alive <3
Your activity today:
Take some time for yourself with a journal. Maybe find a sit spot in your backyard, or find a quiet time of the day where you can be alone with your thoughts. (For a little more info on how to do sit spots, you can read about them here.) Don’t bring your phone or anything else that will distract you from yourself!
Think about yourself and your life… Is there anything in your life that has gotten overgrown, shrubby, and hard to bushwhack through? Anything that hasn’t gotten the attention it needs? Maybe your chores aren’t getting done, and you *really* need to clean your room. Or maybe you have been eating junk food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 3 weeks straight. Or maybe every time you try to sit still, you open up facebook instead. What is getting in the way of you being the healthiest, most resilient *you* you can be? Take a few minutes and just write down everything that comes to mind. Imagine that writing it down is adding it to the burn pile, and picture it turning to ashes.
Then, after you’ve done that, think about what re-seeding you can do to replace it. What would help you turn that burn pile into a bouquet of spring flowers? What kind of loving care can you offer yourself to keep the magic alive in your heart and spirit? Maybe more exercise would help, or a phone call with a really good friend. Write down all the things you think would help you be a healthier, more resilient you.
The most important thing to remember is that these are weird times! And maybe being your most resilient you right now just isn’t the best you you’ve ever been. I know *I’m* not the best me I’ve ever been. We are carrying a huge collective burden. For all of us, this pandemic *is* the biggest thing keeping us living our best lives, from connecting with loved ones, from going to school and work, and giving ALL THE HUGS. The pandemic is the thing we need to toss in the burn pile. So go ahead, toss it in there. And don’t forget that the grief, anger, frustration, confusion and all the other feelings we are feeling about are okay. We need to really feel them. So name them if it helps, and feel free to toss those into the fire as well. Take a look at each feeling as it goes in, and honor it. This is important work, and I hope you’ll join us in jumping in
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