Las Conchas and the Pink Cactus Flower

Pink cactus flower

Pink cactus flower copyright © 2011, by the author of

I shot this photo on 26 June, 2011 as the Las Conchas Fire raged 40 miles away. What looks like rain clouds in the background, are clouds of smoke which filled the sky for weeks. Before Las Conchas, the Wallow Fire, 200 miles away in Arizona, rained down ash, hindered visibility and made breathing difficult for the young and old as well as allergy and asthma sufferers.

On 26 June, I set aside worries about ash and shortness of breath and went outside, eager to practice newly learned photography techniques. I took plenty of shots and this one is my favorite. The gray-violet clouds in the background reminded me of the warnings about the radioactive material at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the fear that the fire could engulf the lab and release plutonium into the air. The cactus plant in full bloom symbolized Spring, my favorite season. As I concentrated on framing shots, I no longer thought of danger, of death.

At night the violent sky over Los Alamos raged like the fires of Mordor; today, the sun no longer resembles Mars. The fire is 98% contained. The cactus plant no longer blooms. There are reports of green shoots emerging from the scorched earth.


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