Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What Lies Beneath

Firewheel Blanketflower
On a brief weekend break, I was able to escape the heat of our desert and head up to Mt. Lemmon.  I stayed with a friend at his cabin.  It had been over a year since I last went up to Summerhaven.  It's surprising really since there are a lot of birds and critters up there.  You'd think I go up more frequently but it often comes down to the time and energy.  I like to have several days in a row so that I can get up early and do my photography.
Yellow Eyed Junco
There was lots to see in the early morning hours plus it was nice and cool.  You can't go wrong with that:)  Here's my first picture with a yellow eyed Junco and a bug in the beak:) 
The wildflowers are wonderful right now and can be found all over the hillsides of the mountain. The picture below is the Common Evening Primrose.  I also took snapshots of the Hartweg's Primrose.  Both are beautiful with their delicate yellow flowers.  In a day or so I'll have an art series of Colombines.  Yellow was the theme and I guess it's appropriate since Lemmons are yellow as well:)
Common Evening Primrose
All of these pictures were taken below a canopy of trees and this is significant because it tells the tale of how powerful the regenerative powers of a fire can be for a forest.  I remember this place before, during and after the fires.  Before it was dark and overcrowded with trees.  Most people loved this about Summerhaven.  During the fires, we were horrified that everything would burn.  It would be a hard afternoon to forget as the fires reached a gas container on Summerhaven and exploded. And with it the livelihood of many people.  From the city, we watched in horror as a mushroom size cloud burst into the sky.   It was a sad day and we knew that from that point on, Mt. Lemmon would be transformed.
And it did transform.  Going back up to the mountain right after the fire to check on my friend's strangely unscathed cabin was a very sad experience.  Most cabins were burned to the ground.  Stone chimneys were all that remained.  And oddly enough, there were pieces of forest still intact. 
A Broad Tailed Female Hummingbird
Fast forward 10 years into the future and you'll find a thriving ecosystem.  Dare I say it's healthy?  The animal life is abundant.  The scars are still ever present, but new growth can be found everywhere.  For people affected in Colorado Springs and elsewhere, it will come back. But it will be different for quite awhile. There is pain and loss when these things happen.  I remember when the fire came close to my apartment in the Foothills.  I now ask myself, "What would I do if there was a fire?"  Save my cats.  Save Pat.  And grab my camera and portable disk drive with all the family memories on it.
The happy side of this fire has been the undeniable comeback of the Aspen trees.  They have become the dominant tree form in the landscape.  The tree canopy is once again forming....taller this time than from last year.  And what lies beneath?
Life.  Hope.  A Cycle.  This has happened before and it will happen again.
Wild Geranium
Today if you head up.  Things will be different.  Perhaps more open, but things have come back again.  They never really left.  I remember after the fire, I saw an ash covered deer on a trail and it made me think that nature is quite resilient.  Of course, the pie place up on Mt. Lemmon isn't there anymore.  Strangely, the place didn't burn down, but the owner that made the pies passed away a few years ago.  Another restaurant is in that location now.  It's not the same, but not everything can last forever. 
Slender Blanketflower
You'll still find the observatory and forest around it intact.  The ski lift and the Iron Lodge is still there.  The hummingbird show is amazing.  I have another Chuparosa challenge coming up.  I'm very excited to share these pics with you. 
House Wren
So for now, I leave you with the delicate balance below the newly established canopy on Mt. Lemmon.  The birds are absolutely loving it.....and I myself enjoyed the cool shade:)  They must be doing a bird study because this Junco has bands around the leg.  I love the look I'm getting:)  More tomorrow....


  1. Such delicate pictures and I do like the Junco's eyes in the last image.

  2. To było straszne co się stało. Ogień niszczył wszystko, co spotkał po drodze. Cudownie , że na te tereny wraca życie. Pozdrawiam.
    It was terrible what happened. The fire destroyed everything he met along the way. Miraculously, it returns to the area effect. Yours.

  3. Hello,
    Wonderful shots!!
    The flowers are very beautiful with fantastic colors. Well done!!

    Greetings, Marco

  4. Variadas y bonitas imágenes.. Algunos pájaros son parecidos a los de España.. :-))).. Recuerdos..

  5. Any fire is scary to me, I feel sorry for those who lost so much. But, I am happy to see the wildlife is still there. Love the beautiful photos. The flowers and birds are gorgeous. Have a great day.

  6. Glad you were able to escape the heat and head for the cooler Mt. Lemmon.
    I hope the beauty of the charred areas returns sooner rather than latter.
    Lovely flowers and bird captures.

  7. Beautiful blog and great pictures! I believe that the beauty of nature will be preserved forever.

  8. so sad...the fires...the losses...it will take time to recover...regenerate...move on. but it will...and nature will come back stronger & hardier.
    of course i LOVE your pictures...the blanketflower is ONE of my favorites...we have them wild here in FL too.
    shades of purple...aaaaaah...the wild geranium is gorgeous!!
    that last bird shot is GREAT! that LOOK...those eyes! and his matching leg band too!! ha.

    take care & have a happy week.

  9. A very poignant post, Chris. I'm glad to hear the forest is rejuvenating so well. Those primroses are absolutely beautiful!

  10. It's such a good reminder to us all that life will continue to bloom after such a tragedy. The blanket flowers are beautiful. That little junco is darling.

  11. Absolutely gorgeous and so right that fire is a natural part of the forest ecosystem, even it is disturbing to us. You are fortunate to have a cabin to stay in and enjoy this amazing lively forest.

  12. I really enjoyed these pictures. they are lovely. I am glad you got to get away for a few days.

  13. the junco is so cool! love the bokeh in his first photo. the wren is cute and plucky. glad everything is recovering there.

  14. I thoroughly enjoyed this post Chris, it's very relevant to me here in Perth and in Australia in general. Summer bush fires are part and parcel of summer, unfortunately a huge percentage are deliberately started which appalls me! But as your delightful images show, nature is not going to let a thing like that stop it from regenerating new life. I'm happy that you had such a wonderful time, your bird shots are a joy to see.

  15. Beautiful photos Chris! I love all the colourful flowers...we have Evening Primrose here too. The birds are so pretty also I especially like the junco.

    How sad to read about the fire! So devestating in so many ways but Nature really is amazing and always seems to regenerate herself eventually which, given the way we humans abuse her, is very fortunate.

  16. I just love your flowers and birds, brilliant photographs.

  17. These are wonderful pictures. I need to make a trip down to Tucson to see my brother and maybe we can make a day trip up to Mt. Lemmon. I love to see life being resiliant.

  18. I love the philosophical message that goes with this post. We love to hang on to things, and nature, whether we like it or not, keeps moving us along. Life's a journey, enjoy the detours.

  19. It is amazing how life returns. Such a pretty collection of birds.

  20. Beautiful photos Chris and I love the wildflowers - so colourful. So sad about the fire but it is wonderful to see how an ecosystem can regenerate and nature return. Sorry for the late comment - I tried to post last night and got a message that your blog had been removed - I was horrified :(

  21. That House Wren is too cute to miss! And that wild geranium is a pretty little thing ;-)


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