Fire Lust

Creation and destruction. Life-giving and life-taking. The nature of fire has been on my mind lately. Orange and yellow tongues of flame lapping at the edges of a barn or scampering across a grassy field might spark fear in the heart of the average human, but to many plants it is beneficial if not vital. Prior to beginning The Trespasser’s Garden, I was familiar with the rejuvenating effects of wildfires on prairie ecosystems; generally viewing scorched earth as a clean slate of sorts where native plants could reclaim lost territory. I have discovered, however, that while there are many natives that benefit from regular burns, several invasives crave fire as well.IMG_2875IMG_2877

I now find myself attempting to capture in a woodcut the ecstatic energy of fire as it sweeps across a field of sweet clover. An aggressive, bushy legume from Europe, sweet clover’s seeds remain viable underground for thirty years or more – providing this prairie invader an endless store of eager new soldiers to take the place of those who fall to the flames.
IMG_2878IMG_2886Alas, the ecological fix is not so easy, the path not so linear, the truth not so black and white. Ultimately, I am left to ponder the indiscriminating aspects of fire. While it may not care what it burns, it also does not care what grows up in its wake.


4 thoughts on “Fire Lust

  1. Em, what a fabulous set of words. Love to read, think about, and share your wisdom and knowkedge. One so young, but so old. I admire your depth that is kindled by a great mind and bellowed by an incredible partner.


  2. Emily, as I read this I could not help but think of a great benefit of the “burn” from your roots in Northern Michigan. That is the breeding ground of the Kirtland Warbler which survives by controlled burns of the Jack Pine. Its amazing that a “burn” can have such a positive or invasive impact.


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