Monday, January 30, 2012

the opposite of fire

J. and I are on the ice. The air temperature hovers uneasily just above 30 degrees. Rain or snow, it could go either way.

There are some people who fight fire all year round. Prescribed burning in one season, suppression the next. Some people call around to Florida or Alabama to see what is happening, if they need help there. Although I complain about working in the office, I'm not one of those people.

In winter, I know I'll have my weekends free. I won't go to work not knowing if I will be home that night or three weeks later. I can make plans and actually keep them. Wear snowboard boots instead of fire boots on a Sunday. Go with my friends to see a band without taking my work cell phone. See someone I like more than once a week.

So we are ice fishing today. What this really means is that J. brings all the stuff to fish and I just show up. We drink Trout Slayer and talk about fire, because we can't help it, because after all these years it's a part of us.

Six months from now, a lightning storm might roll across the ridge south of us. I could find myself here in a different season, calling for air tankers, watching skycranes filling their buckets from the water I now stand on. And I will be exactly where I want to be then, just as I am now.

Outside our warm shelter it starts to snow. The ice cracks and settles. The forest sleeps under a cold sky. The clouds that will bring the fires of summer are still drops of water in an ocean somewhere. I'll be ready for it. But not quite yet.

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