Fire and Frost

Gardening in Canada is challenging enough, what with the ever-present threat of frost.

Here in the Peace River Country we have experienced not only frost, but snow, every month of the year. Not every year (thank goodness) but over the years snow has fallen on at least one occasion every single month.

This year-same as last-frost fears are wildly overshadowed by the threat of fire.

BC has just issued a state of emergency as wildfires continue to wreak havoc in our province.

The garden takes a backseat when you’re simply worried about getting your family and animals out alive and hoping you have a roof over your head to return to.

People are always grateful their family got out safely, but once a fire has gone through your property there will be years of residual grief over the loss of a mature landscape. Trees that took decades to not only beautify the landscape, but slow the winter winds and cast shade on hot summer afternoons are not easily replaced. You don’t realize how they have become like old friends you can count on until they are gone.

You might think that at least the vegetable garden will go on the same. However, with the burning of buildings come all sorts of toxins that leach into the garden soil. It is a lot to recover from for both the garden and the gardener.

For those with orchards, vineyards, market gardens or farms, the threat to their livelihood is terrifying. For them “the garden” doesn’t take a backseat. It rides shotgun.

People are tough. People are resilient. People will go on. But it isn’t easy.

This year BC has experienced 1,841 fires.

So far over 388,000 hectares have burned, which equals almost a million acres and every hour that number grows.

It is even worse than last year and last year was the worst on record.

Most of the fires are a long way from our home in northeast BC, but of course all that can change with a single lightning strike, an ATV exhaust pipe igniting dry grass or a carelessly tossed cigarette.

We have had several smoke-filled days that bring home how we are all in this together.

Last year we had several fires burning around our city, so I know how it feels to be on edge, not sure of what is going to happen next.

We are all hoping for rain wherever it is most needed. At this point we would even welcome snow in August.

My heart goes out to everyone impacted by the wildfires and, as always, so much gratitude to the firefighters and everyone involved in dealing with this difficult situation.

Stay strong.

Stay safe.