December’s Downtime Edits – May Wildfire(s)

Chuckegg Creek 1
Chuckegg Creek 2
Chuckegg Creek 3
Chuckegg Creek 4
Chuckegg Creek 5
Chuckegg Creek 6
Chuckegg Creek 7
Chuckegg Creek 8
Chuckegg Creek 9
Chuckegg Creek 9a
Chuckegg Creek Fire - Tanker
Chuckegg Creek Fire – Tanker
Chuckegg Creek Fire - Rages
Chuckegg Creek Fire – Rages
Chuckegg Creek 9b
Manning Wildfire – 1
Manning Wildfire – 2

In our neck of the woods, most people within the Mackenzie County (Alberta’s most northeast region) were impacted by a wildfire that began in May and still smoulders now, in December, despite snow and cold. We were evacuated from High Level as were surrounding communities as wildfire threatened them. These images are from a drive home from Edmonton to High Level. The Thursday before I had witnessed a truck on fire near Valleyview – thankfully the drive was alright and fire consumed only the tractor; it had been carrying dangerous, volatile goods. Here, though, the Chuckegg Creek fire was within its first twelve hours of burn. At the point these images were taken, the fire was 28 kilometres from High Level. Within a week the fire had made its way to within five kilometres of our town. We evacuated. Here, in this May image, RCMP were dispatched to limit drivers driving the highway within fire and with visibility limited by smoke. A helattack crew flew to the area to work with Wajax bottles and to assess the fire. Later an air tanker came to the seen to lay down fire retardant. At August’s end, the fire was more than 350000 hectares large (CTV News, 29 August 2019).

What is also extraordinary is on this same drive I drove through Manning, Alberta on the way home; in hot and dry conditions another three wildfires were being battled by air tanker and water-slinging helicopters.

Here in High Level, on Christmas Eve, my heart goes out to the people and families of Australia as you encounter wildfires and extreme temperatures.

Listening to – Martyn Joseph’s ‘Bobby’ and ‘Sanctuary,’ and, Ólafur Arnalds’ ‘Island Songs’ album. Robert James Waller’s ‘The Bridges of Madison County’ and the New Customs’ song, ‘Chasing Light’ have been within my hearing this fall. Liking the album ‘Cover Art – Calgary Folk Festival’ and finding 100 Mile House singing ‘1952 Vincent Black Lightning,’ Mariel Buckley singing ‘Ahead by a Century’ and the Rembetika Hipsters singing ‘Wicked Game.’ Liking the lyrics of Ben Howard’s ‘Keep Your Head Up’ from his ‘Every Kingdom’ album. I heard Brooke Wylie’s album ‘Part One – EP’ when my daughter was hospitalized and at a geographic distance from me … my wife was able to be with her; the album has a couple of songs for a Mom and Dad.

Quote to consider – “Photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place. It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with how you see them (Elliot Erwitt).”

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