Amongst the outdoor crowd, these places are often avoided, whispered about as “unsightly”, and left for the animals. I don’t feel that way. Although I enjoy nothing more than verdant forest and mountain streams, there’s a certain sincerity to these fire recovery zones. This sincerity is rooted in the truth of Earth. We were born of fire and ash. This is a violent, devastating, volcanic planet.
Hikers who encounter a burn recovery zone are not witnessing an outlier, or death. What they see is a birth.
I’ll gladly spend all day amongst these silver snags, fishing, daydreaming and hiking. These recovery zones are warmer, and often you can find me basking on a rock like an albino lizard. They also make great grasshopper habitat, and thus the streams are rife with the sound of bony trout jaws smacking crunchy grasshoppers. If one is a fly-fisherman, a hopper pattern would be a good bet here.
Hikers often pass right through recovery zones, not bothering with photos. They’ll continue on to greener, non-burned forests, where they’ll pop selfies. You’ll never find these snags in their photo albums. “Too unsightly”, they’ll say. Or ugly.
But black bears don’t mind, nor various species of woodpeckers. And neither do I. If you’re ever in the mountains, and you see a lunatic lounging about one of these recovery zones, offer a friendly wave and he’ll wave back. And maybe, stick around for a bit. You may find this aesthetic the most pleasing of them all.
A fire recovery zone, Bob Marshall Wilderness, Montana.
The Inland Temperate Rainforest stretches from northwestern Montana to Idaho, and on to Washington. Very few people even know it exists. But that doesn’t make it any less special. In this unique forest you’ll find rare grizzly bears, wolverine, threatened lynx, and the endangered mountain caribou. Almost all of the flora and fauna prior to European settlement still exist here. It’s not all good news, however. This ecosystem is threatened by road-building, and the grizzly bear population is so tenuous that augmentation is required to keep it hanging on. Most of the grizzlies live high up in the Purcell-Cabinet Mountains, foraging along the steep slopes and avalanche chutes. They are remarkable creatures, requiring space free of human development. The same can be said for the wolverine.
Most of the Purcell-Cabinet rainforest ecosystem is federal public land. For some, the phrase raises a big question mark (national forests and parks are a long way off for some people). For others, it elicits chills. Our National Parks and National Forests cradle the last roadless areas and in some cases protect a full array of native flora and fauna. In a way, these places are the most fascinating museums you’ll ever find.
It always puzzles me how people can spend all day inside the Field Museum of Natural History, staring at what is gone, while driving past (or not even having a basic understanding) of our living, current museums. While the value of the Field Museum of Natural History is undoubtedly high, one could make the case that our living museums are even higher. For here is a world that still exists, with creatures barely hanging on.
At this museum, you’ll feel the pinch of a mosquito rather than reading about the pinch. In this museum, the plants and trees give off oxygen. In this museum, that pair of eyes staring back at you may be powered by a functioning nervous system and a thrumming heart. In this museum, you can explain to your kids that what they are seeing is not a simulation or an app–that what stalks there lives and breathes just like they do, that there are no Dodo birds here. Not yet, anyway.
Go ahead, hop over that velvet rope barricade or slip on under. Get your shoes muddy, sweat a little. This exhibit is as real as it gets. It’s waiting for you, like it always has.
So, the ever-working M. David Blake and Stupefying Stories have released the 2014 John W. Campbell Anthology.
What is it? The anthology features the work of emerging science fiction and fantasy writers who qualify for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. I have three stories in the anthology: “Seven Fish for Sarah”, “Fletcher’s Mountains”, and “Hydra”.
The anthology, for a limited time is free over at i09. I’ve been hearing whispers about broken download links and high demand. Get it while you can.
This is my final and second year of eligibility. I’m truly honored to be amongst so many great writers. Thank you all.
Previously, I wrote an entry for this blog about a young grizzly bear named Silver. In that post I said I’d update readers if there was any news about the rambunctious bear beloved by many Glacier visitors. Hmmm, I just used three “b’s” to start three words in a row. That’s the kind of thing I’d edit from a story.
I’m sad to say no one has seen Silver since the spring of 2013. She was glimpsed earlier in the season frolicking with her friend Choco along the shores of Lake Sherburne, and that was it. Nor was her mother seen throughout the season. I spent several weeks in October looking for the great bears, and I couldn’t find them either.
Amongst the Glacier faithful, there are many theories floating about:
Oh, they’re fine, just a bad berry season is all.
As predicted, it’s fantastic. You’ll find stories from amazing writers like Alex Svhartsman, Alex Kane, Brad Torgersen, Erica Satifka, Alexis A. Hunter, Stewart C. Baker and others. And of course you’ll find my short story “9 Steps from Door 9″.
In conjunction with the excellent editor of Spark IV, Brian Lewis, I’m offering a coupon code for friends and fans. Go to the main Spark IV book site, then click the “Trade Paperback+eBook bundle” option, and add to your shopping cart. Apply this discount coupon code to receive 35% off: HODGES-FRIENDS. Or, you can pay more at Amazon.
Either way, you’re getting a fine read.