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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Jade Fiorino

Bio-zone of Ecological Transformation

My birthday, and one of my mum's birthing days, was spent with one of the waterways where we live flowing within a place I call a "bio-zone of ecological transformation." A place where a huge wildfire ignited by lightning strikes devoured 109,049 acres of forest/land in 2013. Zone/zōnē (Greek) as a girdle worn around the waist marking and accentuating an area of the body. Much like the way this fire marked the body of these lands, and reshaped, even accentuated, some of its rolling, mountainous and cavernous curvature.

I don't like to use the word "transformation" lightly. Transformation can, indeed, be an ecstatic experience, with wonders and delights abounding. It can also be terrifying, destructive, disorienting, destabilizing, and heartrending (which doesn't inherently make it "good" or "bad").

Transformation is a deeply entangled process, with all manner of complex relational patterns, births, skin-sheddings, traumas, shadows, and intersectional orchestrations. In the case of this wildfire, it's ignition was not just because of a lightning strike. Rather, we must also look to the inter-generational/ancestral movements of humans, ocean currents and storms, diasporic dreams, trees made ships, and SO much more.

Where we were is a liminal place where death and decay fruit and blossom resilient articulations of life. Gaian incantations of change shifting beneath the shapes of the dead.

Mycelial agents in the midst of their work, popping out the sides of long-since burned-to-death trees still stretching their mighty bodies toward the sky. Fallen timbers adorned with woody fruits that look like a staircase for smaller folx to walk. Raspberries and gooseberries bulging their red bellies outward from the vibrant green. Serpents coiling their sinuous bodies around sun-bathed rocks exposed to the sky now that the land is no longer densely dressed in their furry skirts of pine. Wildflowers singing in color, and wingeds dashing about for insects bursting from their egg sacks. Marmots echoing warning calls of "dog, dog, dog" off the rocks that reach for the river. Pollinators licking at gold, and blood-suckers magnetized by the warmth of sweating bodies. Raccoon scat and tracks, and long, thin worms waiting in puddles for deer or elk or fox to ingest them while quenching their thirst.

I prefer to be with bio-zones of transformation. It reminds me of the rigorous devotion, skilled patience, emotional fortitude, and discerning surrender that necessitates change. Zones like this bring me even closer to shape-shifting kin who call crossroads home. Zones like this remind me of how old Earth is, and how many, many times (long before humans) the world has looked, felt, smelled, tasted, and sounded different. So different that we might not, at first glance, recognize this planet that is our home.

Zones like this remind me that my life is an extension of other lives, and that death makes space for other miraculous shapes to come through. It's a zone where my grief and rage are just as welcome as my ecstatic wonder and joy. Not just welcome, but necessary ecological forces expressing themselves through the mouth, eyes, nose, flesh, bone, heart and breath of me.

My experience with place and space carries weather patterns incanting tempestuous, multi-directional currents of "time" - tempus, tempest, tempéré...

Time as evolution... Time as change.

Which begs the question, given I started this post speaking of birth.... how much is your temporary life worth? At least in the corporeal sense. What kind of patient devotion are you willing to offer this world?

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