East Troublesome Wildfire, Trauma

An Ode to Growth After Fire

It is astonishingly beautiful, this new landscape emerging from the trauma of fire.

No longer is it just a desert-scape dark cemetery of loss and despair. Now: It is a square-miles-wide plant nursery exploding with tender and bold new life and color. A changed world rising up among the skeletons of the Before.

My heart bursts! I feel a level of joy I didn’t think possible after fearing the emotions, avoiding the core of East Troublesome’s heat for so long — skating along its edges, dipping my toes in.

But driving into the 2020 speedway of the fire’s fury, I feel … HOPE.

Not fear. Not sadness. Not grief.

I get out of the truck and I turn, I turn. Everywhere in the burn scar I see and hear: Something Spectacular.

New wildflowers are having a September PARTY at the feet of giants past. … Saplings push stubbornly UP around spent Aspen, encircling them with LOVE and a promise of continuing LIFE. … Multi-colored grasses DANCE in carpeted fields between stands of singed and charred pine. … RIVERS of green FLOW over and dot the black earth surrounding the corpses of a once epic forest. … The dead TREES BECOME sculpture and together are texture and geometry between the close-up explosion of COLOR and the BLUE layers of mountain peaks in the distance. … Birds SING.

A land is coming back to life. I am witness.

This land is not the same. It won’t ever be the same.

It is something NEW because trauma always creates something new. Change.

EYE see the differentness and I know, I know. I AM this change. Too.

We resist the new thing created while we grieve the old, but I see both, NOW. I see the Before, and I see the After, and I honor both.  I gaze at the landscape and see the possibility, the direction, the corpses and the flowers. Both. They are each part of this NEW.

I don’t know if others see it the way I do, if my lens can be their lens.

I question my joy for a moment.

But no, it is REAL.

It is mine! I own this joy, this moment. This celebration of who we are … Becoming.

Dianne Hammer is a resident of Denver and Grand Lake, Colorado, and writes about trauma and recovery.