A cliché becomes reality for me as the Forest Service performs a prescribed burn as part of their forest management. (More)

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.

The National Forest Service did a prescribed burn about 5 miles south west of my camp ground. They did an excellent job of communicating with maps and literature. Until this time, the forest fires have been mostly far enough away from here that I could vaguely smell smoke and see the smoke when I drove the 11 miles into town.

Yesterday was a more visceral experience. We went from hazy to smoky and the smell was intense. I had outdoor plans for the day but quickly abandoned them. My eyes were red and watery and I was sneezing. I retreated to my camper, shut the windows and hibernated.

Suddenly the reality of what the men and women who fight forest fires have to endure became quite real. I tried to imagine them dressed in firefighters’ garb and lugging equipment through the woods. Couldn’t imagine being them for even a moment.

My family survived a house fire when I was 4. We jumped, or in my case was thrown, from a second story window. I remember it vividly. The heavy smoke made me think I should prepare my camper for the travel and hit the road. Instead I drove into town and could see how far away the fire was. The plume of smoke the color of charcoal was big. It was also far away from my camp ground. No need to hit the road. The sounds of airplanes and helicopters filled the air. They were dropping water to control the fires boundaries.

I didn’t see the fire but for sure I could see the smoke. I will not casually toss out that cliché again. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Also, thank god, there’s firefighters.