I hadn’t driven the back road from Fort Vermilion to Slave Lake for perhaps ten or more years. While intention had been to cut hours from drive time, my curiosity pulled me toward what had become of Slave Lake after the town had been overcome by forest fire in May, 2011, losing a third to two thirds of its homes and businesses. I remember being five hours north and listening to radio reports of the fire moving rapidly, of the fire jumping highways, of the immediate need for evacuation of residents from Slave Lake to Athabasca and of those residents being given emergency shelter in school gymnasiums. Adele’s ‘Set Fire to the Rain’ was played by local radio stations to highlight the firefighters and water bomber pilots battling the fire and the evacuation of residents – some of the song’s lyrics associate well to the experience endured; the paradox of setting fire to rain was the attracting lyric.
For me, three years on, travelling to Edmonton, along highway 88 toward Slave Lake, I found other areas of forest that had been touched in the same fire. I stopped my car for the second interruption to my drive, where the silhouette of remaining blackened, yet dead trees continue to stand somewhat vertical, in the up-and-down of pick-up-stix, against a northern Alberta sunset – their silhouette catching my eye and drawing out my camera. The first growth of flowers, cotton-like intrigued me. I walked in twenty metres on muskeg – watery, peaty, muddy, gelatinous earth that overlays earth beneath that remains frozen. These flower images were gathered.
Listening to – Supertramp’s ‘Live in Paris ’79’ Concert; I’d first seen the ‘Crisis, What Crisis?’ concert in 1978; currently captivating songs include ‘Bloody Well Right,’ ‘Another Man’s Woman,’ ‘Dreamer’ and ‘Crime of the Century.’
Quote to Inspire – “Photographs cannot create a moral position, but they can reinforce one – and can help build a nascent one.”