Rains bring “delights” to areas burned by Jesusita, Gap, and Tea fires

An article in the Santa Barbara Independent extols the reasons why local residents should get off the couch and explore the “cornucopia of delights” that the “perfectly paced El Niño rains and sunny days” have brought to the Santa Barbara foothills in the areas where the Jesusita, Gap, and Tea fires burned over the last 18 months. Here is an excerpt:

…Not long removed from the hell fires of the past 18 months, these places are growing back with a vengeance, the green glow of new growth more vibrant and glowing than even the most wicked, chemical-fed lawn of Montecito.

The twist of fire charred trees and backdrop of freshly exposed rock faces only double this effect, turning these familiar routes into new and impressively redone friends. Swaths of sun-soaked lupines and California poppies are but one part of the colorful symphony in full bloom — monkey flower, blue dick, Indian paintbrush, and the intoxicating hummingbird sage all are singing their hearts out, as well. If ever there were a case to be made for the renewing power of wildfire, it is now, and it is on full and undeniable display in our backyard.

Beyond the sights and sounds of the standard hikes lay even more rewarding semi-secret slices of nature. Give a bit more sweat to your adventure or rock scramble in a new direction and you will be rewarded with pristine pools, slippery water slides carved by the graceful hand of Mother Nature, and moments of long-lost serenity that last for hours.

Take off your clothes, let your pale bare feet dig into the warm rock, and lay your body down beside the rhythmic splash and sploosh of a waterfall. A lone manzanita tree cuts a particularly bonsai profile on a rock outcropping to the west, but for some reason you have not noticed it until now. Breathing deep, you sigh with exhilaration at this realization and let yourself melt deeper into the rock. The odd cirrus cloud blows across the infinite blue canvas above as you laze somewhere between sleep and meditation — your ears grooving to a menagerie of sound so rich and layered you are left with no choice but to surrender into it.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

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