Just got back from my first hike at Bastrop State Park since last summer’s disastrous wildfire. I was dreading it, but I have to say I’m more encouraged than I expected to be. The place is still alive. It’s not like it was and will never be again during my lifetime, but in 100 years it will be awesome. That’s a long time for a human, but not such a long time for a forest.
The first thing that struck me was how bright and sunny it was in places that used to be in full shade, and of course there were many burnt trees, still standing but lifeless. It was also a lot quieter than before. Not as many things moving around as before.
Then I noticed how green it was. We’ve had some rain after long periods of drought and there were lots of gorgeous wildflowers. Looking around, there were a few pines with some green needles at the top. I didn’t see them, but was told that seedlings are starting to appear.
Plans are also under way to plant seedlings from an even more drought-resistant strain of loblolly pine. It’s going to come back.
Humans can be so arrogant. We think life is here for us. It isn’t. Life is simply… life. It’s a miraculous stubborn thing that just seems to keep going, despite all setbacks. We’re just a part of that, a much smaller part than we think.
I am continually amazed at the way life adapts and survives. I am convinced that if an asteroid or supervolcano wiped out every living thing down to the bedrock, as long as there were any pockets or caves with living things in it, the globe would be as vibrant and alive in a few million years as it is today.
I even have a crazy idea that when the sun swells up at the end of its lifespan, swallowing up the earth, somehow seeds of life will escape and find a place in the universe where they can take root again. It could be our job to carry those seeds. Maybe that’s the only reason Nature allows us to exist…
And on that note, the forest has had a lot of help from people – dead trees have been mulched, material has been put down to stop erosion. There’s a lot of work still to be done. Life will find a way, but since we contribute to things like wildfires, we have a responsibility to give nature a boost when we can.
If you would like to help make Bastrop State Park and its forest make a comeback, you can vote for the park in a contest sponsored by Coca Cola. If the park gets enough votes, it could win a grant of $100,000. You can get to the site here, or go right to the Facebook app and cast your vote.