Fear of fire is a colonial legacy, and in the contiguous US the practice was largely halted with the arrival of the Spanish. Blinded by an unquestioned commitment to European worldviews and the belief in natural hierarchy, settlers saw fire as a purely destructive force. However, controlled burns and naturally occurring wildfires were, and continue to be, a means of renewal and a catalyst for seeds embedded in cycles of burning for their subsequent rejuvenation. Indigenous peoples have long understood the use of fire as an important tool in maintaining critical resources.
Pines have played a significant role throughout our history for their wide range of utilities: pine pitch sealed vessels to make them waterproof, pine needle baskets were woven, pine sap was mixed with honey and chewed like gum, and even soap could be fashioned from pine tar.
Seeds lie in wait in the dry dirt of the chaparral ecosystem, sometimes for more than 100 years. They hold within a secret, a key to rebirth adapted to the nature of their surroundings: many of these seeds germinate in fire. Phoenix-like, the foliage and plants of the chaparral has evolved beautifully to the regions where it grows. These Mediterranean-like climates allow for evergreen scrub brush landscapes dominated by species of stalwart plants and herbs that stabilize otherwise barren hillsides and provide shelter for the fauna in their midst. I recently had the chance to witness firsthand how this remarkable ecosystem regrows with the energy the wildfires bring, forces we tend to see as only frightening and destructive. It wasn’t...
With warm, beautiful summer upon us, all kinds of seasonal confections--from strawberry shortcake to ice pops--are shared at garden parties and picnics. A simple but elegant adornment for honey cakes and vanilla ice cream, sugared violets make summer indulgences even more delightful. Sugaring violets is an easy project, and especially enjoyable with friends or little ones.