May 2017

We do a lot of playing in our house since we have a 7.5-year-old-forever-a-puppy and a 18-month-old boy. This segment is meant to share some of our favourites and to inspire some adventures. This particular blog is also going to be about fire.

I was hesitant to add my choice for this #karllikesplaying segment because it is The S’more the Merrier Campfire Set. The one year anniversary for the Fort McMurray Wildlife was May 3, 2017 and even now I hesitate to say or even think the word fire. Fire has always had a special place in my life. As a child I have many happy memories around a campfire either camping, or having backyard bonfires. One particular memory that stands out for me was being about 12 years old and going on my first overnight back country hike with my dad, brother and a huge group of my dad’s friends. We went up to a secluded cabin, and one night hiked up even farther to the top of the mountain and had a fire in the rocks. We walked back to the cabin under a moonlit, starfulled night, it was beautiful.

I grew up in a forest community, and from an early age was involved in the forestry educational programs which would occur at elementary and secondary school. I knew how important fire was to trees, to ecosystems, and even to people. I also knew how destructive they could be, forest fires have always been in the headline news where I am from. I pursued my education into forestry and learned even more about fire, and was more impressed by its role in nature. When I worked in forestry, fire gave me unique field experiences within silviculture. I was once able to see black army cutworms in action in a post forest fire cutblock, which was incredible to see these huge fat caterpillars hanging off of defoliated seedlings. I was able to see fire sites way up in the mountains that were covered in thick vibrant purple fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium). I was first introduced to mushroom picking on one of these old fire sites, and with the assistance of an educated coworker picked some very tasty morel mushrooms (*do not pick mushrooms to eat unless they are identified by someone who is an expert). When I worked for WBEA in 2011, there was a huge fire (Richardson Fire) which created some logistical issues for our field program. When it was safe, myself and my coworkers were able to reassess our monitoring sites and see the fires effects on nature as a whole. I will never forget the first time hopping out of a helicopter and hearing the intensely loud sound of white spotted sawyer beetle larvae crunching their way through the burned trees (these are those beetles with long antennas that people seem to be so frightened of). I will never forget being covered in ash from my head to toe from fieldwork. I will never forget how quickly the new germinants took hold and started to green the sites up.

I respected fire, but i was naive. I never imagined a fire would come so close to my home. I never imagined it would threaten my then 6 month old son. I never imagined it would scare me so much.¬† I never imagined it would take so many of my loved ones homes and possessions. I still respect fire. I am now dealing with how to say the word ‘fire’ without guilt, without wondering if anyone who was impacted heard me say it, worried if I will upset someone.

To honour the good memories we had about fire, my husband and I bought our son the Land of Nod The S’more the Merrier Campfire Set for his first birthday. We both have great memories about campfires as a child, and want to give our soon an opportunity to have that as well. This set is so cute and has allowed us all winter to have pretend campfire time inside. It even comes with a cute hotdog and a marshmallow on a stick. Our son usually also brings over his bright pink talking teapot for a spot of tea, and some plushy friends to enjoy the experience. I am looking forward to having his first real family campfire, but until then we will be happy to play pretend.

Until next time, keep playing.


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