Fire

I

The leaves rustle gently at first,

barely moving in the otherwise stagnant air.

But the wind comes, and will come again. 

Every year.

II

It’s eerily warm when

the hearty Santa Ana winds,

the december gusts, come 

to breathe full of life

limbs of dry straw.

Shrubbery sings with that transient weight;

shrubbery that won’t be here tomorrow.

III

Before the door could be closed

a delicate leaf let itself in.

Frail, yellow, brittle.

Winter boots shatter it; 

the shards driven into

the green carpet.

IV

Autumn came when no one was looking, quiet and still, 

but Winter knocked on the door.

Warm winds; loose leaves;

oak and sycamore;

helpless faces;

unpacked clothes strewn, full of life,

on the floor.

V

Fires often blow through on winds like these,

—the threat, toothsome and tangible—

but even as the wind whips

and the sparse clouds hurry across the sky,

cruel circumstance sits suspended in hot heavy air.

VI

Heavy walls went like cardboard 

big weight bearing beams became matchsticks

that snap between fat flaming fingers

recollection ripped out of picture frames

folders full of ash

crumpled filing cabinets

and melted metal memories 

a world engulfed

in wind

in the night

in warm welling eyes

in the sweltering night.

VII

Gnawing on the bones

baying at the hunt

howling in the wind

a hound of three heads sicced 

uncontrollable 

delighting in the chaos 

in pandemonium’s wild embrace.

VIII

silence settled,

the land rested.

no fireman’s boots,

no tennis shoes,

no cars,

no buildings,

no birds.

Just cold black earth,

warm embers,

warm breeze.

IX

Green growth sparsely populates the scorched earth.

Grasses, gaining ground.

But deep in the center the blackness still sits.

Telling you things are not as they once were,

Succession is a process, aching and raw;

but nothing could be so delicate and pure

as the inkling of new life

among black expanse.

X

These winds will whip 

hearts to attention

for years to come.

From: KPCC

The Perfect Tree

This year I learned that there are two types of Christmas trees: a noble and a douglas.

I was standing in the parking lot of Lowe’s, searching the fenced in barn for this year’s tree. To my left, there were the douglasses. I knew that any one of them would look great in my living room. They had the classic Christmas tree feel, and I felt satisfied with the quality.

Then, I looked to my right. Propped along the wooden fences were the plush, green noble trees. And they were, indeed, noble. The trees looked as though they came straight out of a holiday hallmark movie. The branches looked as though they grew to meet cold winter snow, and I could not picture any kind of tree that represented the holiday better.

I again turned to my left. The douglass trees then looked drab. Dying, even. The only thing that made them more appealing than the tall nobles was the pricetag. I sorted through each of them, however, and found one that would suit my living room. I admired it and it’s imperfections seemed to disappear. But I again turned towards the nobles.

The contrast in beauty was striking. The tree I had found did not seem as beautiful anymore.

We went home with a noble.

Image Credit: Nathaniel Young

For Africa

In about three weeks, I will finally return back to my second home: the Masai Mara in Kenya, Africa. This will be my fourth time visiting the Mara and I am more than excited. While I am there, I will work on a big project for school; working with different wildlife conservation organizations as well as Park rangers that wander the park every day in search of poaching traps. The work these rangers do is incredible. They dedicate their whole life to the park and the animals that live there. I and so many other people are incredibly thankful for the work they do. Without them, the parks wouldn’t work the way they do.

But also, tourism is a very big part that makes these parks work. Many people are not happy with tourism in these wild parks and think that tourism should be completely banned. I do agree that sometimes tourism in the parks can be overwhelming, but it is such an incredibly big and necessary part of Africa. Without tourism, rangers would not be able to save the animals from poaching because the park would have no money to pay the rangers anymore. So many people would lose their jobs, and the animals would lose the protection they have from poachers. Tourism is a big and vital part of these parks.

When COVID hit, and traveling was shut down, these parks suffered immensely. The poaching numbers rose into the sky and many lost their jobs. A lot of photographers as well as myself donated money to an organization called “prints for wildlife”. This organization collected prints from hundreds of different small and well-known photographers in order to raise money to send to these parks. They were able to raise $660,200 in just one month. It was absolutely incredible to see so many photographers work together to save what they love most.

pictures by: https://www.printsforwildlife.org

A Cold Ocean’s Call

it was bitter and cold 

in the great green pacific.

and the warmth crawled out from my bones

as the words in my head slowed their swirling.

instead of going with them,

there I would sit 

socks in the sand

I kept high and dry

Always away from that wet;

I hadn’t yet felt it’s unavoidable pull

that siren’s song.

I hadn’t let the cold seep in,

I hadn’t plunged into the ocean,

But I would.

The ocean begs for our attention

it begs for big words

and soft sounds

a deft touch 

and a guiding glance

to make sure

that we

who sit in stony silence 

will be kept in time

by the rising and falling of 

the great green pacific

From: Surf Simply

Little bird of blue

The rays of sun beamed down from the sky laying a thick layer of warmness on the Earth’s surface. The dark yellow school bus happily chugged along the valley’s floor and up the hill to drop off the captives for their usual morning classes. Steeping briskly, as I do, I made my way to room two where I took a seat on the chilled plastic chair that I was expected to stick to like glue. My heavy books were plopped on the table as a sigh of reality takes hold of my lungs. The confining walls lined with large glass sheets let my eyes wander the landscape. The mountains breathe deep breaths of fresh air, I see their lungs fill nature and freshness. The trees sway as the mountains exhale long and slow. The room that I sit in is atop a tall hill that oversees a field. I look down upon the land that lays many feet below, just observing. Until suddenly a small scrub jay painted in blue and black leaps off of the chipped greed roof. My first thought was that his small wings and small body would plummet down to the field below. Instead, he gracefully soared through the open air. He seemed weightless and unbelievably free. I wish with all of my mind and body that I could be that scrub jay. I wish that I could weightlessly jump off of buildings and without a care float through the sky. Instead, I sit heavy and flightless.

Found on flyinglesson.us

Dawn patrol

This week I went surfing at 5 am for the very first time. I got up at 4.30 am and got ready. I got dressed, grabbed the wetsuit, grabbed my bag and waited for the van to pick me up. It was freezing outside but I was so incredibly excited. I always wanted to go to the beach before the sunrise and swim and surf while watching the sun rise. As soon as we arrived at the beach we put our wetsuits on, grabbed our boards and headed to the beach.

I was barefoot and we had to walk a little distance to the beach on concrete and my feet were completely frozen and in pain from walking on the hard and sharp concrete. I finally stepped on sand and immediately ran towards the water. I stayed in the more shallow spot first to just practice a bit before my teacher called me over to try some bigger waves.

After many failed attempts I finally managed to stand up for just a second before I fell but it was still amazing. The sunrise was absolutely beautiful and there were many seals just swimming around us. One of them popped its head up right next to me and looked at me curiously before it dove back down.

It was my first time being at the beach before sunrise and it was a long dream of mine that I was finally able to fulfill.

https://www.liveabout.com/what-is-a-dawn-patrol-3154748

a moment in the life of a Sockeye Salmon

The Alaskan glaciers melt into the icy rivers as the sockeye salmon swim upstream in hopes of population. Scales sunk with an intense array of pinks and dark reds. The salmon’s dark green heads protrude out of their thick body of flesh. In a small school, three or four fish swim passionately up the shallow stream. The stream on the verge of freezing glistened in the bright sunlight, and the salmon swimming only inches under the reflective water continue on their journey. The smell of pine swept through the chilled air and the misted grass sprouted on the side of the stream. Although life thrived outside the stream, the salmon’s life narrowed down to a single purpose. They needed to keep swimming.

image found on Pinterest

The fast five

Through my photography, I have been able to travel to the most beautiful places on this planet. But one definitely stands out to me like no other. The Masai Mara in Kenya, Africa. A heaven for photographers. It is one of the best places on earth to see big cats. I have traveled there three times already, and I fall in love over and over again. Last summer I was able to observe one of nature’s seven wonders, the big migration of the wildebeest that come over from the Serengeti to find fresh grass in the Masai Mara.

Many big cats use this chance to hunt wildebeest that got injured during the crossing. There is especially one group of wild cats that are known to almost all photographers. The fast five. The fast five are a coalition of five male cheetahs. Two brothers got together with a set of three brothers and formed a coalition to hunt and live together. Nowhere else on earth can this be observed.

I have had the privilege of observing these magnificent cats hunt, and it is truly incredible. Each one of them has a special dedicated role and their hunting is extremely coordinated, I have never seen anything like it in my life. They know that they have a higher survival rate if they work together. They hunt every day and are more successful than any other group out there. I am excited to see them again on my next trip to the Masai Mara, and I hope that many others get the privilege to see these beautiful cats.

It is truly incredible what nature has up its sleeves sometimes.

picture by author

Dreams

Everyone has dreams of what they want their future to look like. I am currently a senior in high school and I am getting ready for college. My dream school is Montana State University in Bozeman. It is just 1 1/2 hours away from Yellowstone and just 2 hours away from Grand Teton Nationalpark which is a dream place for me and my photography. But before I go to college I will take a Gap year. I had always planned to take a gap year after high school to just have one year of not studying and doing what I want.

My Gap Year will revolve all around my photography. I am am planning to travel to my favorite place in the world, the Masai Mara in Africa for 2 months. I will work with rangers to help prevent poaching as well as spreading the word of wildlife conservation. On the other hand I will work with vets to learn more about the wildlife in Africa. I am also planning to travel to a place that I always wanted to go, Uganda in Africa. I am planning to spend about 4 weeks there to spend time with one of the most incredible species out there. The silver back gorillas.

I have always been fascinated with gorillas. The way they communicate with each other is incredible. I am hoping to further my understanding of these incredible animals and also help protect them as they are on the verge of extinction.

I am excited for my Gap year, as I will do what I love most. I am hoping to have an impact with my photography and spread the word of wildlife conservation further around the globe.

Picture: l-KmFSmjjss19LKaud2dx-L6SYW6RpBAoJMkfF7ClsqSS1vizheYvNRofgwh5UpF6BcK0z3qfP1E1Xx0Jxpe1CrDlSBn6IvL0l9VK6EFTx3Ed6TyOg1FP-2xqbI

Chaos’ Defeat

For many infinities Chaos had held the burden of perfection,

and Time had sat silent and watched.

The immense weight of nothingness pressed down upon Chaos

Like cold black rocks piled one by one;

each stone pressed upon his empty chest

and he lay tense, unmoving, bracing against the pain.

The cool dull pain.

Chaos’ eyes were tightly shut

to keep the darkness from getting out.

He was honorable, 

quiet, 

still, 

and focused on the weight of that expansive void.

Alone he was,

save his cruel companion,

fighting an endless battle against light and the evil it illuminates.

Time turned his grey gnarled hand over.

Chaos turned his head to look,

and within him something buckled.

And the beautiful darkness was covered in blinding light.

And now there were things in places.

Time bowed his head.

And Chaos sank back in defeat.

And the clamoring symphony began.

from wikimedia commons