into the fire

Mount-Charleston-Carpenter-1-Fire-Photo

Last night, I put the kitten to bed and headed over the pass to photograph the wildfire burning in what seems like our backyard. I told my sister about my plan and she laughed, “Of course, there’s a wildfire and you’re all like, ‘I’m gonna grab my camera real quick and just chase after it.’ ” Well, yeah, that’s kinda my thing 😉

I planned ahead for the things that seemed silly but somehow necessary – what I would do if they happened to close the pass behind me – how I would get home – did I have enough water for the night? What I didn’t plan for is how I would feel when I crested that last ridge and actually saw the flames in the hills. I’m a Texas girl that has fallen in love with the desert, and I’ve never seen a wildfire in real life. And I’ve certainly never watched one burning up an area that I love. It’s all a little too close to home.

I pulled off the main highway onto a dirt road that was closed to through traffic. I spoke to the officer stationed there and he recounted how the whole side of the mountain had been engulfed in flames a few days before. I was shocked that I was staring at the tail end of this edge of the fire. It still seemed too wild and too real.

I wandered down the road for a better perspective and sat in the dirt, remote shutter in hand, snapping off several long exposure shots. This force of nature was big. It was a reminder of how small we are, and how powerless we can be against nature. And yet, it was magnetic. I could have stayed there for hours. Yet I knew the little one had his internal alarm clock set for 3am and that he’d be expecting me. So I packed up and loaded back into my car with less than a dozen frames on my card, more than grateful for the brush with nature in a way that I’ve never experienced, and strangely yearning for another chance to experience it all over again.