Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson-
If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.
-Henry David Thoreau-
The 1977 Pondosa Fire burned 23,440 acres.
I’d been on the fire line with the tools of the trade; fire rake, pulaksi and mcleod and left the saw to the hotshots.
There is an excitement, sense of duty, and fear being so close to the flame. The challenge to overcome the beast and win is great.
As a photographer it is only the tool that makes the difference. There are no suppression techniques only thoughts of documentation with the camera which helps mask the fear. The challenge to overcome and win is as great.
The plume looked to be a white monster and burning arrow straight to the ski. There was no mistaking the signs of it being an extreme burn and sharing space with an abundance of fuel.
They had already named the blaze the “Pondosa Fire” and by the time it was over it would consume 23,400 acres of tall timber and the power to generate extensive high severity burn patterns that would be studied for years after.
It was a late afternoon in 1977 a very hot August day, much like a blast furnace with the windows rolled down; the type of day the car air conditioner is less than useless.
The drive took about two hours. On television I had seen images looking into the eye of a hurricane, this looked very much the same.
There was little activity in the fire camp as it was all hands on the line and the expected help from the south and the Oregon units had not arrived. The Redding jumpers were on it early but there was no getting a handle on something this big in the early stages.
The timing was perfect as a young Forestry incident commander was heading out to do a bit of recon on the flanks to help confirm an attack plan. I asked for a lift tossing my bag on the cab floor of the truck keeping one Nikon body with the 28mm in my hand.
Thick dust from the fire road mixed with the heavy smoke as we moved up the right flank. The idea was just to get a sense of where to deploy resources.
It was just seconds of looking down to retrieve another lens and when I looked back up the windshield was filled with flame. My driver appeared to be mumbling with sweat pouring from beneath his helmet. With every bounce the cab door handle seemed to be warmer. Over hundred foot pine and fur trees were exploding like a rocket launch leaving a rain of hot embers bouncing off the green metal truck hood.
Through the deafening rumble I thought I heard “we’re screwed!”
For the first time I could remember, my concern was not about making pictures.
A Christmas Story
Schwartz: Hey, smart-ass. I asked my old man about sticking your tongue to a flagpole in the winter, and he says that it’ll freeze right to the pole, just like I told ya.
Flick: Ah, baloney. What would your old man know about anything?
Are you kidding? Stick my tongue to that stupid pole? That’s dumb!
Schwartz: That’s ’cause you know it’ll stick!
Flick: You’re full of it!
Schwartz: Oh yeah?
Schwartz: Well I double-DOG-dare ya!
NOW it was serious. A double-dog-dare. What else was there but a “triple dare you”? And then, the coup de grace of all dares, the sinister triple-dog-dare.
Schwartz: I TRIPLE-dog-dare ya!
Schwartz created a slight breach of etiquette by skipping the triple dare and going right for the throat!
Apply tongue here!
Although filmed in 1983 reflective of a small Indiana town, it might as well been twenty years earlier with my Nonie’s backyard as the backdrop. This is back in the day when you had wringer washers.
Yup, the type that you fed the clothes through two rollers after pulling them out of the large attached drum.
Yup, the type that you easily could get your arm stuck in while not paying attention. Just for historical accuracy they had a RED emergency release that was suppose to pop the rollers apart just in case you got your fingers a bit to close…from experience I can tell you that it was neither fool proof or fail-safe release and would take you in up to the shoulder!
No clothes dryer in the early days, just two metal six foot “T” poles with four wire lines strung between and a cloth bag with plenty of wood clothes pins found in the backyard.
Metal was the key word in this configuration and paired with the icy Klamath winters you had a winning combination to create that painful entry into manhood without the goading of a good friend. All it took was a weak brain that urged you to “apply tongue here”.
Martha Charles a McCloud Wintun was born in 1888.
At the time of our meeting Martha Charles was one of the oldest living members of the McCloud Wintun Indians.
She pushed open the tattered wood screen door that would not have kept a sparrow out much less flies.
It was hard to say if she reached five feet tall as she was pretty hunched over from the years.
Her eyes were beautiful and her hands wrinkled, tough, with the appearance of being old…but not frail.
Most things harden with age showing the ties to the past.
Martha spoke softly but went deep in her thoughts when remembering her youth and life along the river.
A small kitten had crept along the kitchen table, making it creak under its weight.
She beamed as she pulled the kitten into her thick cotton sweater.
She was born in 1888 on the McCloud River where it carved a very deep canyon flowing south before the lake and Shasta Dam were constructed.
The Wintun tribe lived along the river catching salmon and collecting acorns. At one time it was recorded as many as 49 Wintun villages had been found along the McCloud arm.
Historians note that they may have traded with the Modoc Tribe to the north for obsidian to make spears for fishing. Catches that may have reached into the thousands, caught and dried in a day.
She spoke of the beauty of the canyon and the winds flowing through the pines and oaks. It was land we both loved. My mother, Inez was born a few miles north in Weed. Both women lived in the shadow of Mt. Shasta.
All too soon it was time to leave and Martha picked up her cane and pushed open that flimsy door. She walked slow, taking the small steps and holding the chipped wood rail as it swayed until she pushed the tip of her cane into the soft dirt driveway.
When I looked back she was staring into the oaks near the house and the blue sky behind. I found myself not wanting to leave, knowing that it would be the last time I would see Martha…lost to time.
Fence found south of Billings Montana
Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.
Lorenz was also a friend of alley's, a place of peace.
As a youngster I was fascinated by alley’s and the secrets they held. Far more mystery than the streets. They are a good place to navigate without being noticed. You find the best wood, bricks and discards in an alley. Things that folks toss with the idea of being worthless and broken. You can learn from life’s discards if you only take the time to listen.
The kanji has five characters: The first symbol is just a horizontal line and is often mistaken for part of the character below it. The characters translate to:
Is, shin, ryu, kara, te
(One, heart, way, empty, hand)
The added character gives the total of six and translates to “do”.
Is, shin, ryu, kara, te, do