In 1988 Yellowstone National Park suffered terrible forest fires. Almost 800,000 acres of land were effected by fires that summer.
When I was out west last August, Amy, Robin and I spent a day visiting Yellowstone. I had never been to Yellowstone before, and I have to admit I was sort of shocked. The park is very visibly scarred from the fires. Huge sections of forest, entire mountains, are covered in a combination of burned trees, and new smaller pine trees. It is terrifying to imagine what it must have been like, all of that beautiful forest, on fire. The image is haunting, and to me, unbelievably sad. I felt very out of sorts in the park. I wanted to see Yellowstone healthy and huge, not burned and broken.
Then, Robin told me one of the most soothing things I have ever heard.
Apparently, there is a bug in Yellowstone that eats trees, killing them, and creating acres of dead, dry trees. When these trees are struck by lightening, they easily catch on fire. Most forest fires are naturally occurring, and they are a healthy part of the life of a forest. In the case of Yellowstone, there is a certain kind of tree that creates a certain kind of pine cone that can only open up in very high heat. These pine cones create the seeds that create new trees. So, in order to get new trees, you need a forest fire.
Isn't that amazing?
After I learned all of this I felt so much better. What was incredibly sad one minute, was suddenly awe inspiring the next.
It really helps a girl's outlook when she can see the forest through the burnt trees.