Photo & Poem: A Smoky Memory


A dusky pink summer dawn, stepping
out the porch door, halt. Dread at
the smell of unnatural heat. How close?
Check the wind, look for a plume.
Scan the paddocks, the horses will know.
No reprieve from fires last winter, the
relentless sun dries new grass to a pale

tan before it can mature to green, noxious
weeds shrivel. Throwing morning hay,
the sun rises from the dull horizon,
casting an unholy shadow. I’ve seen a
grass fire snap and pop across the prairie,
a wide, flat explosion, too quick to evade,
black exhaust smoldering behind. The

less fuel, the faster fire runs, smoke thick
enough to kill what flames can’t reach. Safe
for now, it’s only a smoky fog, a dirge blown
in from the west. The smell of burnt lives;
the taste of ash, both wild and tame. Head
shaking with guilty thanks, horrified at
the expense others have paid for my relief.

Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro


  1. Cant imagine the dread you must feel for “fire season”! Hope you and yours are all safe.

  2. I know the fear all too well. We live in the Columbia River Gorge, one way in, one way out. And having horses adds a whole new dimension to the reality. Practicing having the horses come to me with a whistle, getting into the trailer without a fuss, having everything ready at a moments notice. I am so relieved to hear it wasn’t a fire headed your way. Keeping all of you in my thoughts for a safe summer.

  3. Yep – Anne Rapp, Rapp Corral HWY 550N Durango has had to evacuate her home + 37 horses, dog, & cat because of Fire 146. Over The Hill Outfitters are helping, but it will be a while before she can get back, altho I understand the Fire Crews have so far managed to keep homes & buildings safe. Stay safe!

  4. We dont have the droughts like you guys do, but it’s already getting dry here. Looks like rain, and we get nothing. Soon the pond the horses drink from will be empty. Then with the barns full for racing season, the wells will start drying up too. Last time it was this bad I was buying water at the grocery, putting that in my boys buckets. And then re using the plastic 5 gal water things to bring more water from home. Anna and everyone else living out there. Try and stay safe. Know that we are all here if ya need us.

  5. Hope all stays well for everyone on this blog. Living on the East Coast not too far away from Washington DC, we are not plagued with what you all are contending with. We are having more than our fair share of rain but so far at least in my neck of the woods, flooding is not a huge issue.

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