This baby Aspen tree has just taken root in the shadow of a massive Incense Cedar tree, which had probably stood for hundreds of years - but was killed with millions of others like it in a single day during a recent California wildfire.
Today, I took the opportunity to visit one of the burn zones of one of our recent California wildfires. This one incinerated one of my favorite places for hiking and photography. To visit this place was to step into a dream, or a nightmare, like a post-apocalyptic movie. It felt like entering Chernobyl after the meltdown, or the site of a volcanic eruption. Every blade of grass, every tree, every piece of moss, every pine needle had been completely engulfed in flame and incinerated. All that remained was layers of ash and charred trunks of dead trees.
But in this desolation I found the dawn of a new beginning for the forest. Walking on the layers of ash, the soil felt like a spongy loam or peat. It was as if someone had dumped fresh topsoil onto the entire forest, and the plants weren't wasting any time in utilizing it. Beneath the charred trunks of an entire forest, a whole new generation of trees had begun to grow, in just a matter of weeks. Thousands of bright green shrub-sized trees had already taken root, reaching their tiny tender branches towards the sky, now unimpeded by the shade of a canopy that no longer existed.
It was such a powerful and heart wrenching reminder that even in total desolation when all hope has been lost, nature makes a new beginning, and the cycle of life starts anew - often better than it ever was before.
As an artist, it was also a strong reminder that nature's strongest messages often lie in its quietest scenes.
In today's HD-3D-VR-faster-better-bigger-more-louder-click-like-reshare world, it seems that in order to be accepted – let alone liked – nature images must be cranked up to the max with strong contrast, vivid colors, epic skies, and shocking scenes. But sometimes the images that speak to us the most do so softly and clearly, in a still-small voice of sorts. The images I found here seem to do just that, and I think that's a good thing.