I recently was able to visit Yellowstone National Park in the western US. Yellowstone is a beautiful place full of wildlife, stunning views, and amazing things to see! While we were there, we actually saw an ongoing forest fire and the apparent destruction left behind. Hills and valleys were literally black and still smoldering in some areas. We also saw evidence of past significant forest fires in the park. However, in these areas, we also saw something else… we saw the new growth coming to life in these areas. You could see many new small trees and undergrowth occurring in these areas in the midst of tall remnants of the pine trees previously present. This new growth was vibrant and had a beauty all their own. You can see some of this in the photo above. I read an interesting commentary about a previous forest fire in Yellowstone that captures this natural reforestation:
As quickly as they burned, Yellowstone’s forests also quickly came back to life. Even while fires were actively being fought in some parts of the park, other areas that had been burned were bursting with vegetation. Lodgepole pine cones are sealed with a sticky resin and actually need flames to open them so they can drop their seeds. So as the flames spread through areas, seemingly leaving them blackened and barren, they actually were reseeding the areas as they went. The result were tens of thousands of replacement trees that would sprout in the ensuing years.
So, as destructive and damaging as a forest fire might be, nature is able to use them for good… to create new growth and replenishment in the life of a forest.
It seems that life can bring about its own ‘forest fires’ — family problems, financial struggles, health issues, challenges with children, career disappointments, etc. We have probably all experienced a ‘forest fire’ of one type or another along our life or career journey. Though it might seem to be pure devastation during the crisis, just like the forest, it is possible and likely that your own ‘reforestation’ process will occur. Time seems to make things better. It is difficult to think of reforestation in the midst of the burning hillsides and forests, but in the aftermath, you can often experience some comfort knowing that, in time, plant life will return, trees will begin to grow, and the wild life will return. Though your forest may never be the same as it was, it can still achieve a new ‘normal’ that includes things better, perhaps, than they ever were before. Trust that time will heal. Lean on those around you. And, begin looking for that new green undergrowth that is sure to reappear in time.
Thanks for all you do for those around you. And, if you know that a friend, neighbor, or coworker has recently experienced a forest fire, help them in their own reforestation process. Have a “best day yet” — you never know when it might show up!