We returned from four days at Paradise Campground, a favorite camping spot in old growth forest on the McKenzie River here in Oregon last week.  It was our first visit since a devastating wildfire swept the area in the summer of 2020.  This was one of our favorite camping and kayaking spots. We were devastated when it burned.  The fire destroyed thousands of acres of forest taking a multitude of homes and businesses with it.  Thankfully, the upper McKenzie where we would be camping was spared.

Driving up for the first time since the fire we were silent.  Much of the area was unrecognizable.  The once verdant forest was reduced to acres of standing black skeletons piercing the sky.  The surrounding hills were shorn to stubble by recent clear cuts.  Familiar landmarks were missing.  The little rowboat painted in green and gold with a big O for the University of Oregon marking a driveway remained oddly spared, the house and the woods no longer existing.

Photo by Brian Bull ,KLCC

There were signs of life returning.  Green shrubbery filled in the base of the blackened forest.  New houses had popped and there was lots of new construction.  Travel trailers were a common site where houses were destroyed.

The McKenzie river still sparkled and sang down from the underwater spring in Clear Lake unfazed.  We enjoyed an 8-mile run in our kayaks, sad to see the destruction but marveling at the resilience of nature and the people who choose to live among it.  It was good to be back.

Selfie on the McKenzie
Poem by Kim Stafford

2 thoughts on “Resilience

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