- Author: Lowell Cooper
Driving through Canada was quite beautiful and since we were on vacation, we stayed on rural roads, mostly in the Rockies. The first thing that struck me was the beautiful orange-red hue of the distant hills – very widespread and quite striking. We immediately wondered what plant it was. It was so striking that at first, I wondered why I didn't recognize it or never heard of it. It was so striking, how come it hadn't been described in the tourist material. Since we're on the move, I didn't give myself time to really explore it and had to take the word of the tourist vista lookout signs – which I thought were reliable enough to be believed. But it ended up confusing. One sign said that it was “white pine bark rust”. That couldn't be good. Another sign pointed to “pine bark beetle”. Also, that couldn't be good.
Both signs emphasized that the forests were dying. Without hyperbole, there was no expression of optimism. Sad to see because the scope was enormous, it was clear the damage was terrible. Because of the die-off, the fire danger must be substantial. It was not clear what is being done about this if anything could be. It seems not possible to drive in the open forested country these days without seeing evidence of fire and regrowth. So nature will have her way. Without being apocalyptic, it all is in the nature of the life cycle. Hard to be so close to it.
But there it was, beautiful to behold. A very visible natural event that one could only wish weren't there.