The world has signed a pact with the devil; it had to. It is a covenant to which every thing, even every hydrogen atom, is bound. The terms are clear: if you want to live, you have to die; you cannot have mountains and creeks without space, and space is a beauty married to a blind man. The blind man is Freedom, or Time, and he does not go anywhere without his great dog Death. The world came into being with the signing of the contract. A scientist calls it the Second Law of Thermodynamics. A poet says, “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower/Drives my green age.” This is what we know. The rest is gravy.
— Annie Dillard, Pilgrim At Tinker Creek
A few years back I spent some time touring the sites in the western national parks. Yellowstone was not that many years past that huge fire which destroyed half the trees in the forest. Our guide, however, put a more positive spin on that event: half the trees were spared and were still thriving.
What we learned was that fire is actually a friend of the earth. Fire eliminates choking scrub growth, removes old, dead, or diseased trees, and creates needed pasture land, expanding the habitat of the forest animals and allowing fresh new growth.
Another value of forest fires was obvious as you looked off in the distance to the heavily wooden mountains: half of the trees were brown not green. The pine bark beetles are destroying our forests. Ironically, it is the occasional forest fire that normally keeps the pine bark beetles in check.
Consider the proposition that Smokey the Bear is not a friend of the earth.
After reading the novel, Fata Morgana by William Kotzwinkle, I was still curious about the phenomenon called a Fata Morgana. A little time on the internet and especially on YouTube gave me a clear understanding but still left me with a boat-load of wonder and amazement.
As a kid in Arizona, any trip down the old desert roads that rose and dipped across the arroyos puddled all the standing water of the dry desert on the road ahead of us in the form of mirages: Fata Morgana. It had something to do with heat waves rising, the curvature of the earth, and the reflective properties of tarmacadam.
I found this classic example of a Fata Morgana: