~ Initiation Day ~
"Witnessing the fire was like witnessing the inferno I felt inside. I saw demons, dragons, the undead, the unrelenting, the arcane, and the pure unadulterated beauty underneath all of it. And most certainly I saw myself – the unforgiven. I felt the burn of my fires like I felt sorry for this soon to be scarred young pine amongst its elders. Today felt like initiation day all over again – it was beautiful and unfair – so it became even more beautiful.” ~ Jack Mountain
Out of the many moments and scenes I witnessed during the 1st hours of the Tunnel Fire outside Flagstaff, this is the one that means the most to me. The only thing wilder than the experience of the fire was being there alone, doubled down by the wind, tripled by the number of sides it was around me. While I shot a lot of angles over 20 minutes, my eye kept coming back to this young pine nearby, as the fire approached it. With my eye continually drawn to it, and having trouble visualizing a composition, I waited as long as I felt semi-comfortable, while the fire closed distance on it and me, studying how I felt in those moments.
As the fire swept closer and tight, I was swept away to times I was burned in the cull or burned without requite, wrong or right, and then how all that eventually shaped my might. In energetic empathy and compassion, I raised my glass one last time, composed this image, then never looked back as I moved forward towards my escape and my next scene.