Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Slide Fire

And a new day will dawn for those who stand long, And the forests will echo with laughter." 
--Stairway to Heaven 

West Fork Trail, Sedona, Arizona 

It's 4 AM and I can't sleep. 

I've been up reading all night about the Slide fire. I'm grateful to the locals and the contacts within the fire department who have been so kind to keep the messages to my phone coming.  I'm immensely moved by this thoughtfulness. 

It's my understanding now that most of West Fork is gone. I'd held out hope but I'll stop that now. I've ask to be a part of any restoration processes when it's appropriate and will donate my time and images as needed.

The fire still rages on and it looks like the end result will be horrific. Thursday I was so distraught over the loss of WF that during a meeting I felt myself starting to cry so I grabbed a bottled water and told them I was leaving. As I was leaving, I heard someone rudely say " she's crying over some tree burning somewhere or something".

I had that in my head as I got in my SUV and tried to make my way out of the dirty city. Cars choked together, people oblivious driving while on cell phones, past the strip joints, Circle K's and the homeless. Flick your cigarette butt right out the window cuz the world is just one big trash can. Most of the inhabitants of the city are numb and lifeless. I hate the city, I always have.

The flip side to being "numb" is that you feel everything, and you feel everything so intensely that the bottom drops out of your world when the things you carefully, cautiously and decidedly "LOVE"  are taken away.

I'm not crying about a tree…it's so much more, so much more.

I could have told you exactly where this tree is. I know this tree, every time I'm in WF I recognize this tree. Why this particular tree? I don't know, It just became like a friend standing on the street corner and I just started saying hello every time I saw it. There were a few trees, I knew. When I ever get to go back in, I'll look for it but I'll be afraid of what I may see.

I'd also become aware that I'd given each creek crossing a personality. Some I greeted with great affection and enthusiasm and some became my nemesis and it became a game of cat and mouse. Would I make it across without getting wet or would it nail me. Most of time, the creek was kind, but I knew who was the boss.

Last Autumn, I spent the night in the canyon then hiked in several miles in the dark and cold to catch the Fall colors at sunrise on the big pool. Fully downed up and cocky, the creek dropped me like a bad habit. Fully submersed in icy water (who needs coffee) The waterproof socks were a mute point. As I was shooting, my clothing was forming "frost". I'd been schooled by the creek many times and I was grateful.

I had the same areas that I rested at and those areas were different for every season. In the winter, I'd sit under a ledge just past the first pool that people swim in, in the summer. I'd sit under the ledge and peel the ice off my pants, eat and rest. I'd have to watch the icicles above my head so I didn't kill myself.

Being there was like being with family to me. I reconnected with familiar trees and rocks, coves, ledges and the creek. I felt a connection there, a friendship, a consistent benevolent kindness and goodness that I don't find with people.

On one hand I'm so grateful for my time spent there on the other hand it's seems unfathomable to me that it's gone. Someone told me yesterday, "You'll just have to find a new place" There is no other place like this, that's why it was so precious. I've hiked all over Arizona and there was no place like this. No

You can't just replace ….your place.

Your sanctuary, your soft place to land, your enchantment, your peace of mind, your spirit…you can't replace this. You can't replace the loss of the trees like this one in my lifetime. You can't replace the loss of the wildlife who have and will continue to suffer.

I'm not just crying about a tree.