Wallow Fire Update June 13 – Trimming Hurts, Rocks Don’t Burn

by Jesse Wolf Hardin on June 13th, 2011
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Wallow Fire Update – New Mexico – June 13

Trimming Hurts, Rocks Don’t Burn

The Wallow Fire has been greatly slow or contained at its norther reach, around Springerville, Arizona.  Unfortunately, where it is burning hottest and moving quickest, is its Southeastern flank, fanned by what have lately been northwesterly winds heading straight from the blaze in our direction.  It is also the quadrant of the fire that has apparently gotten the least attention from fire fighting command so far.  Folk in the nearby town of Reserve have largely been set at ease by the reduced threat to the town of Luna, and by the daily briefings from confident sounding information officers… but it only takes a glance at the latest fire progression map to see how the most dangerous spurs to this part of the region are now also the most active, as shown in on the map in red.  The last thing the Forest Service wants is for people to panic, and it seems humans often prefer to inhabit one of the two extremes of either panic or denial, rather than the stress of remaining present in the face of discomforting truths.

June 12 Wallow Fire Progression, showing S.E. front moving our way

Preparations continue here all day, every day, with our crew working their rears off with us to cut the low hanging branches, remove deadfall and grass all around our primary cabins and office.  My hands are nearly too stiff and blistered to type this, but the real pain I feel is for the trees we’re trimming, and over the turning of a wild an overgrown yard into one more resembling a park.  It may take a plant lover to sense the way I’m pierced and shaken by every loud saw cut, or the way my entire family quietly mourn what we know is necessary.

While we have had to breathe thick smoke every evening, today is the first time we have been able to see the growing fire clouds from the canyon of the Anima Sanctuary.  While you can’t tell in a still photograph, they appear to be moving extremely fast, rising above ancient ceremonial cliffs to the SW of us and stretching across the sky behind us.  They cast a reddish glow to the land that is nearly as beautiful as it is horrifying.

Approaching Wallow Fire June 13 as now able to be seen from Anima Sanctuary

We’ve received over 20 donations to the Emergency Fund already, some as small as ten dollars from people with little or no incomes who feel a part of this work.  It’s remarkable how many attendant notes thank us for setting up the fund, so they can be involved.  The accumulative effect has been not only to help with efforts to save this place, but to bring a tear to our eyes.

Donations to the Anima Emergency Fund can be made at


Our little garden and new water tank... live goes on in the face of destruction

Wallow Fire or no Wallow Fire, the rock walls/borders that mark our trails and living space will be moved and our perimeter layered in river sand to slow the regrowth of grasses close to the structures, and will be done in an attractive way to lessen the impact of moving our beloved species further from the abode.  Lately it is one of the last things I do at night, after all the gathering, pruning, raking and sorting of belongings, after the last crucial email has been sent out and all deadlines met… going out into the dark to pee, and then getting sidetracked on the way back by some wondrous volcanic rocks, one side covered with communities of drought resistant lichen, and I can’t keep myself from carrying arranging a few in the semi-dark.

Rocks are special, for many, many a reason.

Not the least of which, being that rocks don’t burn.  They outlast our attachments, outlast our most fully lived lives.

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  • As a plant lover, my heart aches as well. I have no words, though I’m typing these anyway. I wish I could hold your tired and blistered hands and somehow take away some of your pain.

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