© John McColgan 2000 ~ elk taking refuge from forest fire in a river.

Taking on the climate emergency, my daughter writes…

“At first, I couldn’t see the fire. I walked freely through the verdant forest, full too with fragrant wildflowers, and saw no sign of trouble; the air was fresh, the ground cool.

Walking on, smoke permeated around me, a subtle sourness tinging the air. I couldn’t see it, or hear it. Sometimes, I doubted whether I could trust any of my senses.

Soon, though, it was visible. Grey streaks darkened the sky, and my eyes watered. The bitter fog intensified and became impossible to ignore. Fear rose in my chest. I kept walking.

The forest itself began to change. Slowly, verdancy faded. The ground grew bare of grass and flowers; the trees and bushes lost of leaves.

Through the smoke, I could see that all was scorched, devoured by flame. The earth was black, still smouldering. There seemed to be no hope for recovery.

Now, the smoke is too thick to see anything else at all; it blocks out sunlight. Its tendrils reach down my throat, choking me, hindering my movement, driving me away from its source. Panicked, I press on.

Before me, there’s a faint flicker of orange. I hope beyond hope that the fire is near.

I question myself. I am walking towards a forest fire, away from life, away from help, alone, with no way to extinguish the blazing menace ahead.

Although in danger, I will strive to extinguish it. I will try until I succeed.

Or until it kills me.