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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Six Weeks Later: Miller Island Fire

Almost six weeks ago, fire danced across 513 acres of the eastern end of Miller Island.

If you compose a picture carefully enough, you can make it look like a surreal image of destruction. But mostly, the biggest difference on the island is that there are more ashes blowing around and it smells like your clothes after you sit in front of a campfire for a weekend.

East end of Miller Island as it appeared in May of 2009

East end of Miller Island as it appeared 08-24-13

The fire's path of destruction seems kind of random at first, but then you begin to notice geography and elevation and the gorge's trademark gusting winds, and some things begin to make sense... patterns become recognizable.

It isn't always clear why some things are spared.

Deer retrace their trails into the singed earth. The sound of brittle grass crunching heralds the approach of bounding deer long before they become visible.

The bark on tree trunks is burnt, but not all the way through, and the lower leaves are singed brown...but perhaps the trees will survive.

Green things are already migrating into the blackened areas of earth.

I lichen how the singed edges provide a bold black outline.

As I secure the kayak to the truck rack and prepare for the journey home, I notice that someone has lit the clouds on fire.

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