After the Burn

After the Burn 2 CF8A7673

I never looked closely at how a forest looks after a prescribed burn. I saw many burn areas through the years, but mostly smaller sections, where green trees and undergrowth surrounded the small burned area. Somehow it blended into the color around it, taking away from its starkness.  Recently we happened upon an area where a large burn occurred.

Florida requires these prescribed burns. In natural areas the plants evolved around a cycle of growth and burn, and show it in their adaptations. People suppressed the natural fires for years, until they realized that the land and in fact many species of plant required burning to release their seeds, or nudge those seeds into bloom. Not only plants suffer without regular burns, people can too. If the under-story grows too thick a wild fire, usually caused by our frequent lightening, burns hotter and stronger and can kill the trees and spread to nearby houses and other man-made structures.

This burn appeared to be fairly recent but some grasses already grew back in parts of the area. The scene of so many pines receding into the distance stood out starkly. The trunks appeared charred; some more than others, but the fire adaptations showed in the green living pine needles on branches that start further up the trunk to protect the crown, not near the ground.After the burn CF8A7667

The very cold and cloudy morning gave way quickly to bright, clear sunlight and a very blue sky. By late morning that light hit the area in such a way as to show a great amount of texture and detail. I focused at first on the green areas I saw, providing the contrast. As the sun rose higher I noticed the way the light hit some of the burned areas gave many of the trees an almost surreal look. The top photo was not processed to give that look; it is how the camera captured it.

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