This time of year, as we celebrate our Lord's resurrection, our thoughts are turned toward new birth. New life. New growth.
As you might remember, Custer State Park was inundated by a forest fire in November and almost half of the park burned. I hated watching the smoke from thirty miles away, not knowing how much of our beloved landscape was being changed forever...or at least for our lifetimes.
The good news was that no lives were lost, none of the historic buildings were destroyed, and most of the wildlife escaped harm.
We've visited the park a couple times since the fire, but it's hard to tell just how bad the damage was under all that snow. But last week most of the snow had disappeared and we got a good look at the landscape.
Yes, parts of the park suffered awful damage. This area, near Mt. Coolidge, was the scene of the last big forest fire in the park, in 1988. It had recovered to the point where it was beginning to look like a full-growth forest again...but not now.
Even where the trees survived, it looks bad. Last year's needles were toasted to a crispy brown by the fire, and the grass was completely consumed.
With the grass gone, you can see the bones of the hills showing through.
This is what that same area looked like last May.
Yes, it's sad.
But it's spring! New life! New birth! New growth!
Do you see that hint of green? Let me give you a close-up look:
Under the fire, buried by ash, covered by snow, the grass roots still survive.
And in God's time, in God's way, life will return to this part of the park.
Meanwhile, in areas that escaped the flames, life goes on.
The first baby bison of the year has been spotted - not by us, but it's in the park somewhere. And all of these bison cows are expecting their own orange bundle of joy.
And the mountain bluebirds have returned from the south, along with the magpies.
No matter what, life remains.
Have a great week, everyone!
Jan Drexler lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and growing family. When she isn't writing, she loves hiking in the Hills or satisfying her cross stitch addiction.
You can find Jan on Facebook, Jan Drexler, author, or her website, Jan Drexler.com.