What can you do when you witness a spark ignite a single piece of pine straw lying among debris littering the matted dirt of a forest trail from inside a glass house?
You can watch as the flame jumps to the surrounding pine straw, remaining on the trail for only a few moments before grasping for the crisp, lifeless leaves surrounding the trees. The vibrant, livid orange climbs them, crawling up their trunks and spiraling toward their branches, turning everything it touches to black, and ash falls like snow to the ground. You can watch the birth of a wildfire explode within a place of peace, of comfort, of unadulterated life. You can watch horrified animals run, frantic, their homes being destroyed without remorse in front of you; you begin to sob because you know what it feels like to have that taken away, and because you understand what that kind of fear feels like.
The next second you blink, and your aching eyes notice another acre is engulfed in flames, the fingertips of its rage seemingly touching what once was the sky, clouds of black billowing from the forest into the air, no longer clean and refreshing. You can smell the scorched Earth, feel the screaming heat, hear the constant crackles from the flames and the thundering crashes from falling trees and limbs. You put your trembling hands against the glass, swollen eyes wide in terror, as you watch such a beautiful place get ruined by hate, and rage, and anguish.
The only thing you want, the only thing you want is to save what’s left, what’s untouched, what’s still new and beautiful and hopeful, but the best you can do is lean wearily against the glass, your inconsistent breath fogging it, and your tears leaving wet stains on your cheeks, on the floor until you are too weak to stand anymore. You can fall to your knees, your heart so incredibly and irreversibly broken you don’t care if they shatter under your weight.
You can recall the buckets of water sitting behind you in a row, much too small to have an effect on this disaster now, and remaining within the glass house holding them hostage; half of the forest is smothered now, tarred and smoking, the rest waiting for what seems like an inevitably malicious ending to its peace.
The glass is too hot to touch now, your tears turning to steam, but in here you are safe from the flames, despite your total disregard for own safety. This fire cannot touch you, but the howling of the forest, the panic of the animals, the scrutinizing pain from watching something you love so much getting destroyed right in front of you… that can touch you, and it does in a way that shreds you to pieces.
You wish the spark had chosen your toes instead of the pine straw, for it would hurt far less. You can pray for rain, for a tsunami, for a monsoon, for a hurricane to end this. That’s what you can do. That’s all you can do.