Earlier this month, I posted here about the largest brush fire in Big Island history, which burned more than 40,000 acres of land. A couple of days ago. I drove Old Saddle Road and got a look at the aftermath.
The fire burned mostly through dry pasture and scrub land leaving a black and brown landscape. Clumps of charred trees broke up otherwise uniform stretches of blackened grassland. Lines of fencing could be seen, but where before posts held up the wire, in many places the wire now supported the dangling remains of posts. Thoroughfares of dusty brown dirt cut through the landscape where fire breaks had been bulldozed. Strips of green alongside the highway were the only remnants of the area’s usual color.
The fire has been out for a couple of weeks now, but when the wind blows, brown clouds of dust are driven before it. It will be a few months before anything resembling normalcy returns, though new green shoots could be seen here and there, a testimony to the resilience of nature.
As I walked around taking photos I heard some noises. I thought it was trees creaking, but when I got back to the car, I heard the sounds again and spotted these two sheep, now well camouflaged in the new landscape. They looked well enough, though there was nothing to eat or drink for some distance. But they’re free to roam through the gaps in the fencing and no doubt will find something. All the cattle and horses that normally occupy the fields were missing. Many were rounded up ahead of the flames, though some perished.
It was a sobering scene, the more so because, while this was the islands largest brush fire, it was tiny in comparison to the blazes that have become a regular feature of summer on the mainland.
Macadamia nuts are big business in Hawaii, but the orchards themselves present a more pastoral scene. This orchard is rendered slightly less scenic by some dying trees, but that’s offset, to some extent, by the sheep.
Posted in response to Becky’s July Squares challenge theme of ‘Trees.’ See more responses here.
This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Your Favorite Landscape.’ See more responses here.
When I think of the landscape at Upolu, it includes both the ocean that borders it and the skies above. They are, in my mind, integral to the place. But here, I’ve focussed on the land, a relatively small area of a few square miles where I walk most days. It’s rural, agricultural, and coastal. It’s historic and modern. It’s also a place I never return from feeling disappointed. There’s always something of note that I see or that happens when I’m there.
Also posted in response to Becky’s January Squares challenge theme of ‘Up.’ See more responses here.
On my drives to and from Upolu Airport, it’s not uncommon to encounter groups of sheep on the road. Some of the field fencing is not in the greatest shape and, in any case, it’s primarily there to corral cattle, not that it always works for that either.
When I do encounter sheep, their typical response is to run ahead of me. At some point though, they usually veer off to the side and I can get by. Sometimes they turn and run back towards me. The last group I saw ran off, with several of the leaping into the air, twirling as they did so. I don’t think it was because they were so excited to see me.
The sheep bot fly (Oestrus ovis) is also known as the sheep nose bot fly or sheep nostril fly. That’s because larval stages of this fly move into the nasal passages of sheep and goats. So not only is it good looking, but it also resides in the best of neighborhoods.
I like how, in the top image, the fly appears to be bigger than the fair-sized town of Waimea, on the map, though it’s actually about half-an-inch long. Then, in the lower image, the large eye casts a quizzical look.
There were no sheep for miles where these photos were taken, but there’s no shortage of goats in the vicinity, so that probably accounts for the presence of the fly.