• Judy Mortellaro

Tree Helpers

The smoke from the fires in California has been intense. Haze during most days producing significant inhalant dangers. The sunsets beautiful but foreboding. The night skies star free. Respiratory illnesses increase as firefighters attack flames and battle mental and emotional adverse effects of their chosen profession. Families separated for hours and days at a time; alcohol abuses increasing as well as suicides. Workers stretched to the limits.

I am not a firefighter and I do not think I would be of much value in a burning forest. I am challenged daily when I wake up to smoke filled skies to carry forth with my day. I observe how residents in these areas seem to be living, business as usual. It is dreamlike, in a way. Almost bizarre. I know we must work, study, take care of our families and our pets, but I cannot help thinking about the devastation going on in the background of our environment. I do the only thing I know I can do - meditate on surrounding all those in the midst of the fires. The trees, the firefighters, the animals, the evacuated house owners, the houses, the whole ecosystem. I dream of rain and aid from around the world. I plan volunteer services to assist in some way.

It is helpful to know and be grateful for the gifts that nature has so graciously given us. Trees are burning and forests are ravaged. Yet, when I walk in the woods and skies are filled with smoke and my nostrils bombarded with smoke from wildfires nearby, I can't help knowing that these beauties of nature are constantly working to clean the air. They absorb odors and pollutant gases as well as filter particulates by trapping them on their leaves and bark. Climate change and resultant heat and drought we are experiencing is setting our forests afire. Yet, the healthy, unaffected trees continue to serve us with their unique ability to clean the air we have filled with pollutant because of our oblivious and, I dare say, selfish, way of living.

May we always appreciate and be grateful for Nature.

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