Tillamook Burn

Burn

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

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Today’s prompt has triggered a memory that goes back  57 years.  I was 12, in the seventh grade. Our class was going to the coast (we lived in Portland, OR) to participate in a massive replanting project.

We were heading to Tillamook County. A series of four major fires over a period of years (1933-1951) had destroyed 350,000 acres of forest on the sides of the northern Oregon Coast Range.  These were terrible fires. The destruction, when I first remember seeing it in 1957, was heartbreaking.  This is an aerial view, taken in 1933. Terrifying.

350px-view_of_tillamook_fire2c_oregon_from_airplane_-_nara_-_299308

And when the flames finally died, this is what was left: (taken in 1941)

250px-tillamookburn

You can read a more complete history of the reforestation program here.

I’m glad I got to be a very, very small part of it.

The bus ride was joyous–it was a full day out of class, after all, with a bunch of junior high kids who were excited about our destination and the work we would do.  There were hundreds of others who were coming from other schools, and when we got to our designated location, we were greeted by forest rangers who handed out dozens and dozens of little seedling trees.  Our job was to take a clearly marked area and plant these babies. The rangers gave us little spades, showed us how deep, how wide, how to handle the plants, and how far apart (not very!) to space them.

This could have been a picture of kids from my class, but I don’t think it is:

boys-schooled-lucia-1800

It was extremely well-organized, but it wasn’t a walk in the park! We worked hard that day, and it got pretty hot as the sun rose high in the sky. We were thankful for a breeze that cooled us as we worked.

We broke for lunch.  All of us had a sack lunch, quite common back then for school kids, and the boys were especially hungry.  I remember many of them trying to con us girls out of our sandwiches.

We worked until three.  I have no idea how many trees got planted that day, but I do remember the sense of satisfaction we all had. Also, I remember how quiet it was on the bus  on the way back home. We were worn out.

And here’s a picture of the area today:

250px-elkkings1

I understand that forest fires are one of nature’s ways of creating renewal. Still, it was a privilege to be a part of that renewal process.  So thanks, Wordy, for the memory this morning.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/burn/

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