About six weeks ago, there was a small forest fire at the edge of town. It started on the rump of a piece of land my grandfather bought in 1929. He, my grandmother and their two nearly-grown children, moved in there in 1930 and lived in a new house he and my father built about 500 feet up the property's old "Avenue." The driveway was called The Avenue because, in the 1880s or '90s, it was the driveway to the home of a Methodist minister, George Milligan, and, in the 19th century, driveways to ministers' homes were often called Avenues if they had a few trees either side.
After my grandparents moved in, a new farm next door started raising dairy cows. And the cows would sometimes break through the fence into my family's property – where the Milligans had developed some nice grass meadows around the house. My grandparents had a well by their house but it was shallow and they worried the roaming cows would pollute it. So Grandad went another 500 feet up into the woods, found the wet spot where one of the brooks started, dug it out, and made a little pool for dipping fresh water. The spring ran all year round and was fine. Or was fine for a few years. Then one year it dried up and, without being used, the spot quickly grew over. The brook came back again soon afterwards but they never used it again. It disappeared in the woods that continued to grow around it.
I went looking for it about 25 years ago and, after a year or so of searching, I found it. I dug it out again and – like sixty years before – it ran all year round. Lovely fresh water, warmish in winter and coolish in summer. I brought a thermometer regularly when I'd visit it – the water temperature didn't vary much from between nine and eleven degrees. (Uhh, that's like 48 and 52 degrees in Fahrenheit scale.)
But eventually, in the 2000s, my family had to sell the land that was saleable. The city had moved outwards and the taxes had shot up. The new property line happened to be exactly where my grandfather's well was. Houses started getting built on what had previously been my grandparents' land.
The old spring well was just a couple of hundred feet from where, in the past year or so, a bunch of local yahoos built a substantial but secret shack in our woods, replete with a second-storey deck, and started drinking, and tossing bottles into the woods, and having fires. And one of their fires started the forest fire in July.
This, above, is what it looks like now. The spring well is just outside the picture. It's grown over again but I know where it is and the water still flows. But its water didn't help with putting out the fire. There are city hydrants near-by.
There are, scattered around the site charred remains of building materials, and a couple of tools the yahoos left behind, with burnable parts gone. Like this saw.
You can see greenery coming up already. These are blueberry shoots coming through the char.
Not just blueberry bushes are restarting, but also alders, cherries and birches. It will be very well greened over by this time next year.