Thursday, July 21, 2011

June FASO art competition

Rain Clearing

I feel just slightly like I am "always the bridesmaid and never the bride", but here's another FAV15% from June's FASO contest.   It's nice to get the nod, even for this small honor, so no complaints.  This painting hangs on my wall because it is the one remaining work I have that depicts one of our favorite hikes back in New England.  This is along the Bondcliff trail, near Franconia Ridge.  This was done from memory and a photo, because lugging my 35 pound painting pack up about 15 miles of tough  trail would have been more than I wished to do!  We had hiked all morning, in rain, drizzle, and heavy fog, and just as we popped out above treeline, and got to this ridge, the rain began to clear, but it was still hot and steamy. Can you see the humidity and the steam rising from the rocks?   
Lately, hot and steamy seems like a vast improvement over hot and very, very dry. Any kind of moisture to lessen the fire danger here would be welcome! The huge Las Conchas fire is still burning, a month later, but it mostly under control.     The monsoons season should have started weeks ago, but all we've had is hot and dry.... which is of course the worst condition for fire hazard.  The good news is that we FINALLY got rain yesterday.  And even more is due today. (cross your fingers).  The bad news is that now we are under a flash flood watch.
Badly burned soil (and sadly, a great portion of this massive 156,000 acre fire is total burn, complete destruction) is more water resistant than asphalt, so any rain,  even a small slow drizzle, simply runs off.  This creates real danger for flash floods in drainages and steep slopes along the burn scar.  So concerned are they about this very real danger, the Rangers and Forest Service in Bandolier National Monument, (which is situated in a deep canyon gorge running to the Rio Grande) have installed 43,000 sand bags, and removed all items from the Visitor Center and Museum there, and completely wrapped the building in plastic.  They believe it will actually be UNDER WATER at some point.  That means they are expecting water levels of over 30 feet rushing in a torrent down the canyon.   We might see that today if the predicted heavy rainfall occurs.

and interesting... here is a photo of the first day of the fire, taken from the space station. Folks, if you can see it from space, it is BIG!!!!
and to put it's growth in perspective, it is now larger than that dark area you see in the upper left of the photo(which is heavily forested mountains).
And, yikes, our house is just at the  left edge of the origin of the plume!

A friend and I (this was her idea, I'm just a tag-along) are in the process of trying to collect fire stories - there are many, and we are concerned that already they're being forgotten... Folks who had to evacuate with only the clothes on their back, ranchers who desperately tried to retrieve livestock from the burn area, the folks who were at ground zero when the fire started, the firefighters who battled this monster under extremely dangerous conditions (one firefighter was seriously injured with a broken pelvis and leg and was helicoptered out)... these are stories we are going to try to collect. If our plan comes to fruition, we hope to publish these stories in a small book, the proceeds of which will benefit our own local volunteer fire department.  More to come on this project I hope!!!  

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