One Sunday this winter, as I relaxed on my couch, I saw smoke billow past my living room window. At first, I didn’t pay it much mind as I figured my neighbor was burning his leaves. But the smoke continued to slide past and I looked outside to see my neighbor’s yard on fire and the fire licking at my carport and driveway. I grabbed a bucket with water and ran outside. Neighbors and I created a bucket brigade to fight the fire that curled between the two houses and into my backyard, eating the grass and spreading before the dancing wind until the firefighters arrived.
My neighbor had been burning leaves and cones from his magnolia tree. He didn’t realize it had escaped until he felt the heat of the fire burning his pant leg. Smoke lingered in the air for days. Ash and charred grass marked your steps. Finally rain came to wash the blackness away.
But a scar remains. The dark brown shows in relief against the bleached out dead grass. When I arrive home, I can trace how close it came, licking here at the cement that supports my garage, there where it surrounded my air conditioning system. When I look out my kitchen window, I can see where firefighters finally stopped it, where it had been growing and spreading, hungry for more.
But soon, in time, spring rains and warmth will come. Green grass will push through the burned areas. Only the soil in its chemical makeup will hold the secret of the burn. Just as with time, our physical scars fade. The hurts heal, somewhat. But deep in the soil of our souls, the scar memory remains.