Even Momma Nature has serious housekeeping to do – forest fires are part of life in the mountains.  Purge.  Renew.

Scary.  Impressive. Haunting.  Devastating.  Mesmerizing.

I took this photo Wednesday while helping friends prepare to evacuate

The fires around my neck of the woods have been especially daunting so far and the season is only half over.   Two of my favorite “haunts” (wilderness areas) were blasted by nature’s fury this past week.  The Millie Fire engulfed Hyalite Canyon near Bozeman; more than 30,000 acres scorched 3 days into the fire and still raging.  Wednesday afternoon a fire started in the wee community of Pine Creek; burnt five homes to the ground in the 1st few hours then leapt into the coveted wilderness quite close to home where I hike, mountain bike and ice climb.  Earlier this spring I made another return pilgrimage to Black Mountain and swam in Pine Creek Lake (see blog post).  The scenery up Pine Creek is so stunning it feels like you are in a Lord of the Rings movie.  Burned.

Photo taken by Matt Long

My experience years ago as a wild firefighter broadened my perspective and deepened my respect for fire.  The good, the bad, the ugly, and breathtaking beauty are found in Momma Natures inferno. A mix of emotions as intense as the blaze flares when the earth around me is torched.  I confess one of the persistent thoughts while I drove toward the fire Wednesday evening to help friends evacuate was simply an overwhelming attachment to the sculpture finished less than 24 hours before the fire started.  Three months in the making, the finished piece has not been seen by anyone and MUST be seen (by everyone!!!)   But I am thinking ahead of myself – while wildfire is always possible up here, my studio and home are not threatened by the fires currently burning.  Of course fire is on my mind and in my work.  Wilderness and wildfires influence the “Reliquaries”  (see my artist’s statement).

Awestruck and in shock – my heartstrings stretch, coil, reflect and grieve.