Monday, April 30, 2012


On Thursday - at work - I got an email from M saying that there was a fire on campus. And then another saying that it was a false alarm. A few hours later, he emailed again, this time about a fire in Assiniboine Forest.

All photos Assiniboine Forest, Winnipeg, MB. April 29, 2012.
And this was no false alarm. Like the fire in the forest a few years ago, this was a grassfire near the CMU residences (i.e. the opposite end of the forest from the entrance).

Last time, we drove out to the fire right away, worried that a large swath of the forest was gone. But it was a grassfire and the forest recovered in a matter of months.

And so, this time, even though it was a larger fire, we waited until Sunday to visit.

I'd forgotten my camera in the headlong rush out of the house, so I borrowed M's camera and its macro lens. I'm used to the particularities of my own camera. I can make it see what I see...and using M's camera was like trying to look at the forest using only my peripheral vision.

M and Aa waited at the edge of the fire, standing amidst the yellowed grasses and downed trees and shrubs while I walked between the trembling aspen trunks, raising small clouds of ash and soot.

And the patches of white ash on blackened logs were greyscale versions of the white/ivory mushrooms I often photograph on the forest's downed logs.

I spent a lot of time photographing mossy tree trunks, specifically the boundary between burnt and green. It reminded me of the depth marks you see on bridges after a flood recedes, except here it marked the height of the fire, how firefighters hauled hose into the woods.

And there were still mushrooms. Last year's mushrooms, high up in the trees.

I had a bath when I got home five or six hours later. I had been pleased that I hadn't gotten too dirty while tromping around but when I climbed into the tub, I saw that my leg muscles were outlined in soot.

It was like a charcoal picture of a leg on my leg. So I carried the fire home in M's camera and on my skin. And somehow that seems right.

It goes without saying that I'm angry that someone might set have a fire in the woods. Again. I can't think of anything much worse than burning a forest...but I'm looking forward to being there as the forest recovers.

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