Currently, our forest region has 27 fires burning – fourteen are out of control, four are being held and nine are under control. Our temperatures have been hot this week reaching +30C and higher in our corner of Northwestern Alberta. At least two smaller communities have been evacuated, threatened by fire and smoke. One fire has a 15000 hectare involvement. The photos presented are of recent water bombing and water slinging operations in the La Crete area – the state of emergency, there, has been lifted at noon today.
Listening to – Shawn Colvin’s All Fall Down and Walter Trout’s Turn Off Your TV.
Quote to Inspire – “When I shoot a scene I often shoot a hundred frames sometimes over a few hours or days, before I begin to get a real handle on what I want in the frame and how I want it there.” – David duChemin
Day 3 of the Wilson Prairie Wildfire – Friday, July 6th, 2012. In contrast to Thursday evening in which residents were able to move freely into the fire area, Friday saw Alberta’s Ministry of Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) controlling road access so that firefighting equipment could be moved around with greater ease on Wilson Prairie Road. I arrived in the early afternoon to find access to Wilson Prairie Road being controlled. I couldn’t use my vehicle on Wilson Prairie Road. But, I could walk in, staying to the ditches when equipment was being moved through. Two-and-a-half hours walking in and out allowed me to see more of what was going on and how the blaze was being controlled. Dozers were creating breaks/cut-lines and pushing piles of brush together so they’d burn more easily/quickly. Areas of intended burn and back-burn were being created. One home was in harm’s way and helicopters were being used to sling water (from local dug-outs) to saturate the area in the case that the fire’s path changed with the winds. Air tankers had been tasked to other fires within the region; but, lead planes and Martin Mars water bombers (or the like) were being used to keep a consistent supply of water on the fire. On dust-ridden, gravel roads water trucks moved slowly dribbling water to keep dust down for vehicles moving in close proximity to one another. Later, I was able to drive around behind the fire to two other points to catch the more dramatic perspective of hot, billowing smoke moving upward into the atmosphere and the water bombers flying into fire area to release water on flames below.
Listening to – Adele’s Set Fire to the Rain, a tune played throughout last year’s forest fire that consumed Slave Lake, Alberta (spring 2011).
Quote to Inspire – “I enjoy traveling and recording far-away places and people with my camera. But I also find it wonderfully rewarding to see what I can discover outside my own window. You only need to study the scene with the eyes of a photographer.” – Alfred Eisenstadt
Thursday night – I’m checking the La Crete Online webpage lacreteonline.com/ for the next stock car race out on Wolf Lake Road (closer to Blumenort); there, I read and see pictures of a forest fire out on Wilson Prairie Road – south and east from La Crete, Alberta; windrows and forested land are ablaze. No one has been evacuated and only one home seems to be in the fire’s track. The Wilson Prairie area contains back roads of a Mennonite farming community, roads I used to drive when shuffling Home Education curriculum around to students – their names and faces and the faces of their parents come to mind. My hope for them is that the fire can be contained quickly and that they will not be affected. When I think through my students I’m reminded that the first home education student I met and worked with was one I had to get to by driving on Wilson Prairie Road and then finding another road – Savage Prairie Road. On Thursday evening, I drove out to the fire site staying a few hours, snapping photos and chatting with concerned residents driving by, amazed by the sight. It’s the second wildfire in the La Crete area this summer. On Thursday night, traffic tapered off around 1:00 a.m. with an occasional farmer still coming out to watch, to look and to assess.
Listening to – Matthew Perryman Jones’ Stones from the Riverbed. Other songs of the day are Sarah Masen’s Hope, Over the Rhine’s Spark, and Rumble by Link Wray and the Wraymen.
Quote to Inspire – “The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust.
This morning’s wee hours saw the completion of two day’s detailing our 2006 Nissan Altima, a task completed without anchored schedule and with all that time off. The task first involved trekking around the Altima with Autoglym Super Resin Polish with orbital buffer and polishing bonnet or buffer and buffing bonnet. The task next involved applying by hand Autoglym HD Wax, a paste wax, in sections and letting those sections cure for fifteen minutes at a stretch. In applying the HD paste wax I caught myself up on several podcasts.
Storing digital images was the subject of one podcast of Shuttertime with Sid and Mac; I’m in need of a new external hard drive and need to investigate back-up solutions. The podcast introduced me to Drobo and to Carbon Copy Cloning and much more. In another Shuttertime with Sid and Mac podcast the ‘why’ of the photographer – her or his motivation for shooting – was considered. A truth that surfaced is that good photography is something that serves the photographer first before her or his audience. It was noted that photographer burnout (meaning their interest or desire in photography is extinguished) occurs when the images created tend to be ‘for’ others. Ideally a photographer needs to manage the balance of work for others with work for themselves.
Two days detailing allowed for breaks when they were needed. Tuesday evening presented the opportunity of summer’s quietude along our street. Near midnight I was able to sit outdoors in the sun’s dusk, in the absence of activity and mosquitos to enjoy an evening breeze – a time to be, a time to sit still and enjoy. Within these two days I’ve been able to watch at various times most of the 2010 film of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender, an allegory of spiritual development and of finding soul mates. Wax on, wax off – words from the Karate Kid, words akin to meditation, an activity slowing you down, a means to gather thoughts and loose-ends; the activity involves sight and seeing and perspective; section by section the activity moves toward the whole of an outcome completed. Perseverance is required – you and the car are better for it.
The photograph presented here is the first rendering of an image using the Snapseed app with my iPad – a truck that’s been used for mud-bogging.
Listening to – Over the Rhine’s Spark, Dar Williams’ Mercy of the Fallen and Radiohead’s High and Dry; the other song that’s been in my thoughts and hearing is Robbie Robertson’s Sweet Fire of Love.
Quotes to Inspire – (1) “I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.” – Diane Arbus; and, (2) “To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity which live or are latent in all things.” – Ansel Adams
Our school year is complete. Mandated and extracurricular tasks and obligations have been seen through to good conclusion. I continue to be amazed at all the work all teachers engage in in moving students onward in their academic learning as these same students move into, through and from of the hormone jungle. Our final days at school have been about pushing through, getting what needs done, done and sharing in celebration and play with students.
Our year-end school riot, outdoors, held so much fun – a supremely significant high point to the year – water pistols, pies in the face (for staff and students), izzy-dizzy, wet/slippery tug-of-war, shin cracker, fire engine pull, music and more music and most fun was the make-shift water slide (a rubber 100’ x 50’ tarp with fire truck pumper and two fire hoses soaking students and staff in summer sun); staff and students shared laughter and smiles abundantly … what an extraordinary day! Stats on the Animoto of the event are sitting at 180+ viewings within one week – our year-end riot was a hit and definitely memorable.
Beyond the riot, the final days were about pushing through, getting year-end tasks done; then, there was a sacred congregational task to be completed last Sunday at Hutch Lake, Alberta. Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes and ‘Tis also wrote a book about his teaching life in New York City. In his book, Teacher Man, he references the acronym ATTO, meant to mean ‘all that time off’ that non-teachers look at as the perk to teaching and as something perhaps as an ill-gotten-gain. The reality is that there really is all that time off. But, for me and any other teacher the time is something used to catch one’s breath mentally and physically. It’s a time to move the teacher’s self from back burner interest and to step out and seize hold of Life and to breathe Life into interests, intentions, goals and endeavors.
The house that needs fixing, the taxes that need submission, the mail that needs opening … all those things that have been put off so that a rich school year may be had by students – these are the things that now must get done. Yesterday, summer’s reward was there. On his Soul Surmise website, Steve Stockman (Stocki) provided the world with his top ten album picks for the first half of 2012. The reward specific – Stocki pointed me to Matthew Perryman Jones and his Land of the Living album, intelligent, well-crafted lyrics with a voice richly reminiscent of David Gray; truly manna.
The photographs presented here are ones taken on a drive northward from High Level, Alberta towards the Alexandra Falls just on the other side of the Northwest Territories border. I had freed myself for an afternoon and got into the car with my Canon 60D. Most shots are macro shots of colour amongst greenery. Two shots are photos of the aftermath of a forest fire that had raged on North of us a few weeks before.
Listening to – Matthew Perryman Jones’ Land of the Living album – The Angels Were Singing, Cancion de la Noche and I Won’t Let You Down Again; the melody from Stones From the Riverbed catches my interest.
Quote to Inspire – “Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.” – Matt Hardy