Fire on the Mountain

Three months ago we were evacuated from our home in Woodland Hills, Utah, along with other residents of our town and people in Elk Ridge, Covered Bridge Canyon, and residents in Hobble Creek Canyon, because of a threatening fire burning on the flanks of Santaquin Peak, the mountain that rises abruptly up from the highest streets in our town.

Today I hiked up the mountain and learned a few things.

  1. fires are unpredictable. With scrub oak and maple trees unaffected on both sides, almost everything burned in this little swale


2. These scrub oak and maple trees may or may not grow again next spring.


3. The fire, as fierce as it was from our perspective, was largely a quick-burning affair fed by grasses and dead brush. This Douglas fir, for instance, was burned only around the lower trunk and otherwise was not touched.


4. The Douglas firs along the ridge line didn’t do so well.


5. Our town’s attempt to control any subsequent debris flow by channeling it into our park surrounded by jersey barriers seems a pitiful gesture toward pretending we can control nature.


Can’t wait to see what the ground looks like in the spring, once the snow melts.

About Scott Abbott

I received my Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University in 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I directed the Program in Integrated Studies for its initial 13 years and was also Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy for three years. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (REPETITIONS and VAMPIRES & A REASONABLE DICTIONARY, published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade and in English with Punctum Books), a book with Sam Rushforth (WILD RIDES AND WILDFLOWERS, Torrey House Press), a "fraternal meditation" called IMMORTAL FOR QUITE SOME TIME (University of Utah Press), and translations of three books by Austrian author Peter Handke, of an exhibition catalogue called "The German Army and Genocide," and, with Dan Fairbanks, of Gregor Mendel's important paper on hybridity in peas. More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and dance/yoga studio manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as an ecologist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a parole officer, as a contractor, as a seasonal worker (Alaska and Park City, Utah), and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett, with whom I have written a cultural history of barbed wire -- THE PERFECT FENCE (Texas A&M University Press). Some publications at
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