This isn’t about politics so the “Burn” was not a typo. More and bigger forest fires are one result of climate change and I am a tree hugger. I spend my summers in the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota. (More)

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

A World Heritage Forest is burning in Tasmania. 1,000 year old trees and the peat bogs beneath them are burning. Some trees burn and are regenerated by the fire. Not these trees. Once they are burned, we have lost them. They grow in the highlands and were adapted to the temperature and normal rainfall. All those conditions have changed due to El Niño and the cooling of the east Indian Ocean. Most of the fires were started by lightning. The map in the article is scary filled with about 100 white diamonds for individual fires.

The author of the article grew up in Tasmania. He writes:

To cross this immensely empty landscape takes weeks. As a child, my parents would often take me on treks among the ethereal alpine forests of Tasmania’s central highlands; where ragged pencil pines sit beside bogs and tarns. I was warned never to tread on the cushion plants. Like the corals of the reef, these communities of tiny plants build upon the dead skeletons of their predecessors to create the kind of bulky, alien green globules that a 10-year-old boy just has to run and jump on. But, in doing so, I’d be destroying hundreds of years of minute architecture. So lightly, reverentially, we trod around them.

So, while we are entering the political season of primaries and caucuses, I find myself wanting someone to ask, “Have you hugged a tree lately?” In 2011 the Pigami Creek Fire burned 93,000 acres in and near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. It struck close to my summer home and I smelled it for weeks. It too was started by lightning.

These forest fires and so many others are the result of climate change. I hope that voters, all voters, factor a candidate’s positions on climate change and forests and clean water as they vote. I want policies and programs but what I really want is someone who truly understands that these old forests are not only important for our climate but for our souls. Part of us needs to be able to walk in the woods and hear the sounds of nature. I will treasure sitting by a campfire with each of my grandchildren and watching the stars. One of them has gotten to see the Northern Lights. All of them can find Orion and the Big Dipper and Cassiopeia. They can name the different kinds of pine trees and have gorged on wild blueberries. Each of them has a “walking stick” that they made from a downed branch. We may need the forests but truth is, they need us too and we are letting them down.