Redwoods flourish in fog, but they don’t like salt air. They tend to appear in valleys that are just out of sight of the sea. In their relationship with the sea, redwoods are like cats that long to be stroked but are shy to the touch. The natural range of the coast redwoods begins at a creek in Big Sur that flows down a mountain called Mount Mars. From there, the redwoods run up the California coast in a broken ribbon, continuing to just inside Oregon. Fourteen miles up the Oregon coast, in the valley of the Chetco River, the redwoods stop.
I have enjoyed discovering a menagerie of characters in these campfire photos from a night my husband and I spent near Great Sand Dunes National Park last summer. It’s a bit like picking figures and objects out of the clouds, but the contrast between light and darkness makes these images very dramatic.
Of all the characters I have described, this one is my absolute favorite, although The Boy Made of Wood (Pinocchio/Puck) is a very close second. There is something melancholic about this woman that I simply can’t resist. Here are two shots of her.
The Soul in the Flame #1
She turns away in her strapless gown, wistful, a shimmering profile. Perhaps the partner she seeks has not arrived, or maybe she plays hard to get. Her hair curls playfully behind her ear- should we ask her to dance?
This is the second set of photos from a campfire near Great Sand Dunes National Park. As the fire gets rolling, the flame take up more intricate and bizarre dances, making for wilder personifications.
#1 A Jealous Duck
An old ghoul, open mouthed and square jawed, applauds a dancing sea horse, completely enthralled. A prim and proper duck looks on from above, either thoroughly unimpressed or feeling left out. Even fire imp parties have their petty jealousies.
A monkey and a fox sit chatting, trying to decide which of them is the most noble. They want to know if anyone has seen that rascal Aesop, because someone stole their rucksack.
When this couple gets together the sparks fly, although I’d have to say she is hotter than he is. She however, believes there’s nothing like an old flame.
#4 Cross Legged Girl
Come on, if you could sit cross legged in a fire, wouldn’t you?
#5 The Orator and His Cat
Dramatic presentation is this guy’s forte. Look at that heroic claw! Unfortunately, he’s being upstaged by his cat, who likes to eat steak thrown at him by the audience.
Just a few bright, tired imps left on the dance floor. I don’t have the heart to poke them into life again.
This week I am sharing a series of photos which I took at our campfire near Great Sand Dunes National Park in southern Colorado last June. Looking at them, I not only remember a beautiful, cool summer night at just over 8,000 feet in elevation, but I enjoy making out figures and creatures in the flames. These images are like catnip for my imagination; I hope you enjoy them too!
#1: Twilight: Jupiter and Venus Approach
Night falls like a cloudy blanket while the bright planets preside, named for ancient gods of power and love. My husband wants to douse our firewood with lighter fluid but I, raised in the country, long for a steadier, prettier blaze that doesn’t stink of chemicals. The mountain air is already forgetting its moisture; I remember making fire. The local fire imps are not pretentious; a few matches and some dry wood are enough for their escapades.
#2: He Wore a Stovepipe Hat
Our first friendly imp appears wearing a stovepipe hat, his left hand flashing a peace sign- or is he making a fire bunny? No, it is only his pet snail. Dressed as he is, this dapper guest must be Uncle Sam or Honest Abe or else the duplicitous Cat in the Hat. And who was the surly rogue who fired a shot through his tall chapeau?
#3 Have a Seat
This one is asking for you, this dark skinned prince in a white tunic and headscarf. Nonchalant, he sits in the fire pit, sipping a very dry and spicy martini. While you hesitate, he becomes a gleaming prairie dog sitting before a cash register. “Are you going to pay up?” he chirps. All this talk of payment reminds me too much of Mephistopheles. Such an imp surely puts on airs.
#4 The Boy Made of Wood
Here’s a boy made of wood, his face smudged with ash and his nose lengthening suspiciously as he points into the distance, as if to blame some other soul for his mischievous handiwork. What lies has this rakish Pinocchio told tonight? Will there be more?
Soft boyish cheeks melt into air, revealing a shining, shapeshifting soul. Puck, your tail is showing!
The last deep colors of sunset conjure forth a molten geisha, lovely and untouchable. Her beauty appears delicate, but she would burn you without remorse.
Did you see something different? I’d love to know! I’ll have more fire imps for you soon!
In the countryside, the old stories seemed to come alive around me; the faeries were a tangible aspect of the landscape, pulses of spirit, emotion, and light. They “insisted” on taking form under my pencil, emerging on the page before me cloaked in archetypal shapes drawn from nature and myth. I’d attracted their attention, you see, and they hadn’t finished with me yet.
Besides, I’d seen a really nice pair of shoes yesterday in the mall and I wanted them for my own. I can’t describe the feeling of immediate familiarity that rushed between us. The moment I clapped eyes on them I felt like I already owned them. I could only suppose that we were together in a former life. That they were my shoes when I was a serving maid in medieval Britain or when I was a princess in ancient Egypt. Or perhaps they were the princess and I was the shoes. Who’s to know? Either way I knew that we were meant to be together.