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Field Program

[Image Description: Two MCC members taking a brief break; one is sitting on a rock, the other is standing nearby. They are both in their uniforms, looking out at the expansive, mountain view surrounding them.]

Burn Zone, Burn Out

A crew sits inside of a rig, smiling at the camera

They say we can't enjoy rainbows and butterflies without the rain and storms, and that was certainly apparent while working on the two halves of a fire-divided forest. Some days were filled with walking through skeletons of trees and getting covered in ash, having no cover for sun or rain. Other days were filled with an abundance of mosses and mushrooms and so much tree cover you could bask under.

Along with the obvious environmental differences, our crew also experienced physical and mental challenges. The black burned zones brought out a side of sadness and frustrations, uncomfortable situations and feelings, accompanied by a wonder of what was before the fire and a desire to bring that back. The green live lush areas brought out a sense of euphoria and enchanted happiness that made us laugh and smile and ponder upon the towering canopies of how the whole forest would look if not for the fire, reinstating in us what our purpose here was and that there is hope and goodness.

Seeing the two sides made us appreciate the ups and downs and the uglies and pretties of all parts of life. Recognizing that we, just like nature, go through times of burnout and loss. But it's not just black and white. There's a gray area we can come to, the fork in the trail that shows the two sides of it all and how it was and still is one whole being. It teaches us to accept the downs and work through them to get to the ups and rewards that can so often be overlooked. There were days when some of us broke, just like half of the forest did during the fire. But there were other days when we flourished and loved and laughed and saw the light between the new growth of white pines.

Working in such a divided area brought together so much within our group and within the land. By the end of our hitch, we appreciated the gray, knowing that we didn't have to choose a side but be open and choose to embrace it all. Just like we saw nature doing as we crossed the different moods and scenes of its journey. Life has yin and yang, and we must go through both to appreciate its wholeness.