There’s a heavy haze in the sky.
It’s sure cloudy, but the weatherman just said this was a clear day.
A distinctive smell of smoke is the air.
What appeared to be ashes floated in and landed on the arm of a ranch visitor.
Those are descriptions of conditions last Wednesday at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
Cause was apparent to hundreds of ranchers who found conditions near perfect for their annual spring burn of Flint Hills pastures.
However, those uninformed may have had questionable thoughts about why it seemed so dark in the middle of the day and such a rank odor permeated the air.
Thankfully, no comment was heard from city dwellers who we feared might have experienced aftermath of the “big blaze” as has happened before.
Environmental contamination brought considerable criticism in previous years as smoke, stink and repercussion from spring pasture fires have drifted into metropolises.
We’ve attended several sessions and read considerable about the Smoke Management Plan. Regulations demand considerable fore-planning with the main intent to prevent excessive smoke and residue drift into cities.
Pasture burning is a hazardous, but necessary management tool to reduce intrusive growth of detrimental forbs into the native grasses, while increasing nutrition for expanding cattle gains.
A controversial issue in days gone by, it is now a general consensus of most land owners that burning is essential. There is still debate if blazing should be done annually or less frequently.
Burning has become a science of when conditions are precise for maximum efficiency and safety.
Last week, more than once, we heard about everything being just right when the first match was stricken, but changed instantly as blazes became completely out of control. Proficient firefighters were incapacitated until strong winds idled.
Even when land managers are in complete cooperation with limitations and formalization of grasslands burning, Mother Nature is still always the ruling power.
She can not be controlled, despite lawmakers’ finest tuned policies.
However, we can’t deny Exodus 22:6: “If a blaze gets out of control and spreads to destroy another person’s field, the one who started the fire must pay for the lost crop.”
Yet, we are reminded of Revelation 16:8: “The angel poured out his vial upon the sun, and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.”