Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: forest fires

Smoked sinus syndrome

British Columbia is having a very bad year for forest fires. People have lost homes and property, a whole town is gone, several lives have been lost. Thousands more have had to flee their homes and businesses as the flames advance, not knowing if anything will be left when the fires are out.

Image by WikiImages from Pixabay 

My woes are not on that scale, they hardly bear mentioning at all in the face of such tragedy. Yet the smoke from those fires are having an effect on people a thousand kilometres east of the fires. The smoke has hung in the air for weeks, we have breathed the resinous smoke of burning conifers and it does carry health risks for those who are allergy prone, elderly or immune impaired.

There have been frequent air quality warnings. I’m sure many people are more seriously affected than I am; all I have is some allergic reaction in my sinuses and my eyes. That is treatable, yet those effects will persist as long as the smoke does.

Are forest fires preventable? No. Sixty percent of forest fires are caused by lightning, others by activities that would not be problematic in ideal circumstances and only a small percentage by outright carelessness.

Lets not fall into the trap of trying to find someone to blame for forest fires. Wood burns. If we enjoy the beautiful side of forests we need to accept that occasionally there will be an ugly side. Can the effects of forest fires be mitigated by better forest management and increased safety measures? Certainly greater efforts can be, and no doubt will be, made in these areas.

Making our escape

Image by Bee Iyata from Pixabay 

Can’t stand the smoke, can’t stand the heat, we’ve got to get out of this place.

We are in the middle of the hottest driest summer in years. Farmers are giving up on getting a grain harvest on some of their fields and cutting the grain for green feed for cattle. Hay crops are poor. The smoke drifting across the prairies from forest fires in B.C. and northern Saskatchewan adds to the misery. We see it, smell it, taste it, feel it burning our eyes.

My wife and I have decided to take a week off to visit a part of Canada where they have an amazing natural phenomenon – water droplets falling from the sky. They call it rain, perhaps you’ve heard of it?

OK, bad joke. I’m just in a bad humour. I hope a week in Quebec will brighten my outlook on life.

Smoke gets in your eyes . . .

and your sinuses, and your throat. The forest fires in British Columbia are still burning. The smoke has wafted in other directions for the past several weeks, but yesterday and today it is back in our country. There is a blue haze in the air, accompanied by a faint aroma of burning evergreens.

Elderly people and those with respiratory allergies or impaired immune systems are advised to take precautions. I qualify on two of those counts and have been taking double doses of antihistamines all summer. We are two provinces away, imagine what it must be like in B.C.!

One side benefit (?) is that the smoke filters the sunlight and moderates our temperatures.

Other trivia from today –

I spent part of the day doing bookkeeping at the vet clinic. Then I went to check out the sale on the town square of Delisle where my daughter had a table selling Tupperware. (There would be room for debate about whether Delisle has either a downtown or a town square. The business district consists of one block, with a vacant lot at one end that serves as the town square.)

From there, I went across the street to the coffee shop to have a latte. The young lady behind the counter asked me if it had been a busy day at the vet clinic. What? I had to ask her how she knew I had been at the vet clinic. It turns out she had spent a few days there as a work ed student while in high school. Okay, the light began to dawn, I do remember seeing her there. And she made a super latte with the perfect design in the cream on top, just like you see in pictures.

Pine siskins have been mobbing our thistle seed feeder for several weeks now and the goldfinches seemed to have disappeared. Today we saw a goldfinch, but there wasn’t room for him at the feeder. I guess they have been crowded out from our feeder and are most likely going next door. We have hummingbirds fighting for a turn at our hummingbird feeder. These are the young from this year and it seems that there is always one male who is boss and won’t let the others near until he has had his fill. Nature is not all sweet peace and harmony.

The dying poplar

 

plane-tree-337780_1280Three native species of poplar grow in Saskatchewan: cottonwood, trembling aspen and balsam poplar. They are fast growing trees that can attain heights of  25 to 30 metres (80 – 100 feet) and a diameter of 100 cm (3 feet) at eye level. The balsam polar is more slender.

Cottonwoods send forth their seeds with tufts of white fluff that form a cottony layer on our lawns each spring. Trembling aspens have flattened leaf stems that allow their leaves to flutter against each other at the slightest breeze. The sap of balsam poplar has a balsam- like scent.

These are trees of the open prairies and boreal forests. Being fast growing trees, they are also short-lived. There is no old growth boreal forest, a 100 year old tree is either a dead tree or a terminally ill tree. Forest fires are nature’s way of renewing the boreal forest, cleaning out the dead trees and the debris from the forest floor and allowing new growth to begin and reach for the sun.

These trees have been widely used in farm shelter belts here in the flatlands, protecting farm yards from the constant prairie winds. But here, as in their natural habitat, they eventually grow old and die. Fires are not a desirable event in a farm yard, so these shelter belts eventually need maintenance. And often don’t get it. The wood from these trees is of little value for lumber, or even for fire wood, providing little incentive to go to all the work needed to remove dead and dying trees. This leads to scenes such as the one I described in my last post.

Several years ago one of these big old poplars could be seen from our dining room window. It was obviously close to the end of its lifespan, one massive branch fell during a summer windstorm. The next spring, most of the branches showed no sign of life, but leaves did appear on a few branches near the top of the tree.

One day, when there was only the slightest breeze, the tree came crashing down. It was easy to understand why when I went to look: the interior of the trunk had rotted until there was not much but bark to hold the tree upright.

I wondered if some Christians might not be like that tree: still upright, showing little signs of spiritual life from the outside, but almost spiritually dead on the inside.

Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12)

Somewhere a forest is burning

Somewhere a forest is burning
A blue smoky haze blurs the horizon.
Acrid fumes affect our breathing
Causing eyes to sting, tears begin to run.

Somewhere a forest is burning
A forest of churches now redundant;
Made weak and sickly from learning
To accommodate half-true new doctrine.

New interpretations of truth
Weakened those who once were mighty and tall.
Rottenness took hold of the roots
One by one the branches began to fall.

Places where once the Word of God
Shone over the pathway for young and old.
Who will weep for all that is gone?
Who recalls the truths that once here were told?

Fire consumes twisted undergrowth
Heavenly light touches the hidden seeds.
Out of ashes appears the truth
Growing the forest this world so much needs.

All that man builds the fire will try
That alone which came from God will remain.
Then may we forever rely
On the Word of truth that He has proclaimed.

Copyright © August 16, 2014 by Bob Goodnough

[Another poem? I think this is all for awhile. Friday I sat in Scott’s Parable Christian Store in Saskatoon with a cappuccino and a notebook and scribbled down some notes. After considerably more scribbling, crossing out and shifting things around I came up with these two poems. The smoke was pretty noticeable on Friday, from forest fires a thousand miles away in British Columbia and the Northwest Territories.].

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