The Lost, Lost Pines

September 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

I have just returned from the epicenter of the great Bastrop County Complex fire, near the junction of Park Road 1-C and Alum Creek Road. Some friends of mine, including the great-great grand-daughter of the famous pistolero, gambler and Austin City Marshal, Ben Thompson, lost their house, guest house, shop — in short, everything — to the fire. Their losses included priceless Ben Thompson memorabilia, including his roulette wheel. She did escape with his famous, custom-made City Marshal’s badge. But they made it out alive. Square miles of pine trees stand like burned toothpicks, while as many more acres stand fatally singed. Most of adjoining Bastrop State Park wildlands burned to the ground, save most of the CCC-era buildings at the park’s eastern edge. Scattered pockets of pine trees have survived, given the vagaries of wildfires (much like tornadoes), but anyone old enough to be reading this post will not see again in their lifetime the Lost Pines as they appeared just a few weeks ago. Under normal circumstances, the Lost Pines will grow back. But these are not normal times. Texas, according to climate experts, may be undergoing a long-term climatic shift, with the state’s dry line moving east from its traditional Balcones Escarpment boundary. If this is the case, chances of the Lost Pines growing back to their former beauty will all but disappear, since the rainfall they need will drastically diminish. Keep your fingers crossed, say a prayer, do a rain dance, tickle your prayer beads, think good thoughts, hope for the best … . Only time will tell the fate of the Lost Pines.

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