Jun 29, 2007

The day the forest died, the sky wept

Yesterday afternoon a great big mushroom of smoke billowing over our town foretold of the tragedy that was to unfold. The smoke was coming from Parnitha, the National Forest we live near. The smoke was so thick it looked like a cloud had sprung up from inside the mountain.

I was surprised that I couldn't see or hear any fire extinguishing aircraft. These water-carrying planes won't fly with high winds and night, but the winds were calm and it was still very much daylight as you can see from my photo.

I knew that the Greek firefighting corps was dealing with more than a hundred fires strewn all over Greece. I hoped that there were enough firemen and trained volunteers to help avoid the calamity of losing Athens' last remaining "lung". Parnitha breathed fresh air to stifling, grey cemented capital of Greece. It was woodlands of great importance to the ecosystem and for millions of Athenians the closest they could get to nature in a very short time.

I crossed my fingers hoping the Greek emergency control center would be able to contain the fire with as little damage as possible. I was wrong. The fire raged on and on all night.

In the morning the air was still thick with smoke and the ashes of a once-life giving mountain range scattered over our homes, balconies, gardens, cars were floating like snow in the air.

This afternoon a sudden rainstorm came out nowhere to help extinguish the all-consuming blaze. It seemed that the sky had had enough, shedding its tears for the loss of such a wondrous piece of Greece that is no more. The pouring rain flooded the streets in minutes, as a foreboding message of what's ahead when there are no trees or greenery or roots to contain the rainwater.

As the ashes of Parnitha washed away with the muddy currents, so did hope.