Photo Assignment: Honoring the Trees [Slideshow]
On the day I arrived at Mesa Verde, they were the first thing to capture my eye, and by the second day, they’d captured my heart. They are visible almost everywhere you drive or hike, a few here, some there, and occasionally, entire hillsides. “They” are the burnt and singed trees from wild fires of weeks, years and decades ago that are visible almost everywhere throughout the park.
In the past 15 years alone, five large wildfires burned nearly 30,000 acres (more than 50 percent) of the park. And, since it opened 1906, 70% of the park has been burned by wildfires since the park was established in 1906. Nearly all of these fires were caused by dry lightning–lightning that occurs during thunderstorms that produce no rain.
“The clearest way into the Universe is through the forest.
~ John Muir (American Naturalist, 1838-1914)
While it’s sad to see dead or burned trees, I’ve come to appreciate the role they play in keeping forests healthy. If you look close at a “dead” tree you’ll see it’s swarming with activity. Insects live off the bark or bore holes to build their nests, and birds like owls and eagles perch from their leafless branches for a clear view of prey. Even the decaying wood supplies nutrition to low-lying plants and surrounding trees.
When I look at these trees I see beauty in the way they still stand watching over the forest and in knowing this is part of Nature’s perfect cycle to keep the land and its creatures healthy. So often today, it’s easy to direct our attention to things that are growing, young or vibrant and miss the learning that scenes like this can teach of Nature’s perfection.
Honoring the Trees
Mesa Verde National Park
(Click an image to start the show)
The images above are ten color and black and white photographs that honor Mesa Verde’s amazing trees. I’ve placed them into a slideshow so you can view them more easily and in a larger size. Click on the image above to begin the slideshow. Once it starts, you can either click on a specific photo to view it in a larger size, or navigate from one photo to the next.