Web Site: King Isiah, A Frog's Tale
A Wild Fire is an excerpt from King Isiah, A Frog's Tale. It is narrated by Isiah, the frog king.
One year in October, just as the leaves on the trees were turning to a hundred different shades of gold, brown, red,
yellow and all the beautiful colors that signal fall is here and winter is not far behind her, two old local boys went
out for a morning of squirrel hunting. I had, for the past few days, been hearing an occasional rifle shot in the woods. I
kept a watch out for any hunters coming near the pond because a few of them old boys had been known to take a pop shot at an old bull frog every now and then. I was always wary of anyone near the pond carrying fire arms.
Well now, this is what happened, them two old boys had shot a squirrel but it wasn't hurt that bad and it ran up
inside an old hollowed out tree. By the way, them old boys were named Chester and Bobo. Bobo's real name was Bobby but when he was real little, his kid brother called him Bobo trying to say Bobby. The name stuck; he's been Bobo ever since.
"That squirrel ran up inside this old tree Bobo," Chester said. "How in tarnation we gonna get him outta there? "
" I know exactly how to do that," Bobo replied. "My daddy showed me an old trick one time. Cut me a long skinny sapling. What we have to do is take the sapling and run it up into the hollow tree and twist it around and it'll twist up in the old squirrel's tail and we can drag him out. Be ready to shoot him though, cause he's gonna be mad as a hornet."
Bobo ran the long skinny sapling up into the hollow tree and started twisting it around like crazy. Sure enough, he
snagged the squirrel and come dragging him out. When he came out in the open,Chester unloaded his shot gun on him
but he missed the squirrel and blew the sapling in half, just behind where the squirrel was snagged, this freed the
squirrel and right back up inside the old hollow tree he went lickitty split.
" Durn it Chester, where'd you learn to shoot boy ?" Bobo said. "My granny shoots better than that and she can't hardly see any more. I know another trick that'll run him outta that tree and I'll do the shooting this time," he said. "We'll smoke him out. Gather up some leaves Chester and cut a couple of small cedar trees. We don't want a big fire, just a lot of smoke going up inside that old hollow tree."
Well, they smoked that squirrel out all right and Bobo shot him but when they left the old hollow tree, a few sparks had went up inside the tree and were smoldering in the dry seasoned out wood. It was three days later when a forest ranger spotted the smoke and took action to contain the fire. That old tree had finally burned through and fell,
sending a shower of sparks everywhere. This had been an exceptionally dry fall and all the dry leaves and dead brush
and such on the ground were perfect kinder for a fire. A westerly breeze spread it rapidly and a major wild fire was under way before the ranger could get enough help to stop it.
From my pond, I saw the smoke rising, probably even before the ranger did and smelled it even before that. Already, some wildlife was moving past the pond in getting away from the flames and smoke. Some stopped to drink and told me that this wildfire was a bad one. Redwing Blackbird flew by and gave me a status report.
" It's a bad fire your frogness," he said. "It's a good thing your pond has plenty of water cause your probably gonna
have plenty of company soon."
"Well, those who can handle being in the water are welcome," I said. "They?ll have to mind their manners though or we'll put them back in the fire. We're all in this
together. You can spread that around Redwing. "
"Yassa boss," he replied "I'll surely do that." Old Redwing flew off and worried me a great deal because I didn't hear from him for several days. I found out later that he was moving his family out of danger and also helping some other critters to get to a safer place.
As the fire spread out and got closer and closer to the pond, more and more critters came out of the woods by the
pond. Some kept moving but a few decided to hang around the water. I guess they were taking comfort in knowing they
could get in the water, if and when the fire got close. Old Redwing finally came back by here.
" It's bad Isiah," he said. "It'll be here within hours and at this rate there won't be any woods left for us critters to live in."
" Them human critters got every piece of equipment up here and all the available fire fighters trying to block the fire but they are not doing much good. A few houses have burned to the ground already too. The Johnson farm house is in danger Isiah. The Johnson's have all left except for Jed and he's fighting the fire."
"That's bad," I said. "What kind of feel do you have about the weather ?"
" I sense that there's rain on the way, but when and how much I can't tell yet," he answered.
"Where you going to ride it out ?"
" I'm headed way east, I've already moved my family there. I would stay here in that old tree in the middle of the
pond but the smoke is going to be intense and I don't know if I can handle it."
Redwing went on his way and said he'd be back after the fire went out if there was any thing to return too.
Just after dark that night a mass migration of animals came to the pond. All fleeing the fire which was very close
now. I could see flames now and hear the fire roaring and smell a blend of many different types of trees burning.
An amazing thing was that animals who were normally mortal enemies were fleeing the fire, side by side as if their
only enemy and a common one now was the fire. I saw two black bears, something I had not seen around here in ages.
Lightning flashed back to the west intermittently and I hoped that there was a lot of rain on the way. I couldn't
hear the thunder though, so the rain was still far away.
Today a tanker truck had been driven right down to the pond and filled up with water. Myself and Effie and the
other critters had to move away to keep from being sucked up the water hose.
It was late in the night and the fire was right at the edge of the woods near the pond now. It was also drizzling rain and getting steadily harder. This felt like a full fledge front blowing through and the wind was whipping the flames
around but the rain was quenching the dry woods and fields and the fire was dying. The wind popped and cracked and the fire sizzled and moaned its last dying breath. The critters that had gathered and stood in the water of the pond stared at each other in silence and seemed to wonder what to do next.
The rain came down harder and harder and drove most of the land critters back to the standing timber to take shelter.
Many of them instinctively moved on east where the fire hadn't done any damage instead of back west where they had just left and where the fire had destroyed much of the forest.
It rained for almost three days solid and the fire threat was over. The Johnson family house was spared but barely. The
tanker truck that took water from the pond had parked near the house and kept water sprayed on it to keep the fire from
igniting the house. The fireman doing the spraying was Amos Mulberry, one of the Johnson twins old adversaries.
Jed had been on the other side of the mountain, as the fire got near the
house, so he didn't know it was in immediate danger. Amos was driving a
long haul truck for a living now and had just got home from a west coast
trip. When he saw the fire he borrowed a tanker truck from the fire hall right up the road and saved the Johnson home. He was the only man around who wasn't fighting the fire elsewhere.
A few days after the fire was extinguished by the rainfall, a couple of old boys were in the local pool hall and they had drank a beer or two and got to bragging about smoking an old squirrel out of a tree, a while back. Well, one of the other pool players was a good friend of Game Warden Billy Jacobson. When he got word about what Bobo and Chester
had been bragging about, he did a little questioning of those two himself. He was in plain clothes at the time and, after a
few questions, them boys all but admitted that they had started the fire that did so much damage. Well, then the Game Warden had Sheriff John A. Runyan pay those boys a visit and after a little talk Chester and Bobo admitted to
what they had done. They were locked up and are awaiting trail. They broke several game laws and after so much
damage was done by their disregard for the laws, they may be in jail for a long time.
Things got back to normal in time. Old Redwing came back pretty soon after the fire was put out but a lot of the other animals took a long time in getting back to this neck of the woods.
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