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Smoky Morning After | by MaureenShaughnessy
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Smoky Morning After

Wildfires are burning up the land here in the Rocky Mountain West. The places we love, so dry from eight years of drought, are like tinders and kindling laid carefully -- ready for a match. Lightning, an engine spark, an ember flying up from a holiday barbecue, a carelessly tossed cigarette butt ... these are enough to set off a 100,000 acre blaze. Our August and September breezes can pick up and breathe power into even the tiniest smoldering coals. Then as the forest and prairies burn ... the air swirls with acrid layers of smoke. The smoke settles down into valleys and coulees: blankets of yellow-gold haze. Dawn, the sun glows a red ball hanging sluggish in the thick sky. It hurts to breathe. It hurts to be outdoors with your eyes open.


The morning news blared that the Derby Mountain Fire, burning 180,000+ acres east of us near Big Timber, was the top priority wildfire in the nation. I am staying inside today ...


If you want another way to imagine how large a fire that is: 180,000 acres is a little over 280 square miles!


Part of the set, Light of Wildfires


also part of the set,Home & Studio here

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Taken on September 5, 2006