A Sad Surprise

I’m editing some of the images from the Nordegg mine/Icefields ice walk taken a couple of weeks ago.  We had very good weather and lots of time to take many images.  We shot a couple of sunrises/sunsets at Abraham Lake and I was attracted (as I usually am) to the combination of grass and trees along the shore of the lake rather than the impressive lake itself.  Here are a couple of images from sunset the first night.

This second image reminds me of the complete skeleton of some small herbivore.  A deer?  Prehistoric horse Hyracotherium?  Since the level of the lake changes so much over the season (depending on runoff from the mountains and drainage at the dam), the shoreline is always changing.  This line of bleached sticks marks a highpoint in the reach of the lake.  Since we were at the lake on a weekend, it was a bit crowded with campers enjoying the sunshine.  Kootenay Plains is a favourite, almost secret spot for ‘locals’ (sometimes traveling as far away as Red Deer) to camp.  Unfortunately, it is clearly being loved to death with roads everywhere, firepits scattering the beach, and destroyed groves of trees.  I learned that a tree that I had photographed last winter had been chopped down and just left, literally hanging by a thread of bark.  Judging from the hacked off aspens all around — the broken ends discarded nearby like children’s toys — it was clear that this was an act of destruction without more purpose than the pleasure of swinging an axe.

I was surprised at how upset I felt.  It’s just a tree!  And yet I think many of us have felt something, standing under the sweeping branches of some gnarled matriarch, or admired the plucky, stringy reach of a young sapling.  In other words, it’s not just a tree.  Cutting down wood for fire, although illegal, I can understand uneducated campers being tempted to do.  But going ‘postal’ in a grove of aspen surely must be an example of the ugly, shadow-side of human nature.  Instead of gloating about how we’ve ‘come down from the trees’, maybe we should make a point of metaphorically returning to them and appreciate how our lives are all intertwined with nature.

I believe it is the very left-most tree from this image of last year that has been felled.

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~ by Samantha on August 30, 2011.

8 Responses to “A Sad Surprise”

  1. I’m glad you wrote this. I notice the same things when I head out. Now to get the message out to everyone!

    Great post and photos.

  2. I witnessed kids cutting tree (dead one) for fire at Glacier Lake just 2 weekends ago. I hope they are just ignorant. I used to scuba dive a lot, and I learned so many things about how to become a skilful diver to prevent damaging environment from one particular diving instructor. Sam, educating the ignorant people may be a part of your job, too.

    I like the 1st image, and actually last one, too. Autumn is coming.

  3. I felt the same way Sam when last spring one of my fav tree stumps got hacked. It’s looks like nobody really cares about the environment anymore. Looks like this economy is a bigger problem. How ignorant.

  4. I share your sadness. Reckless destruction is very upsetting, a lack of appreciation and respect for the planet.

  5. Thanks sucks 😦

  6. […] head over to Sam’s Blog for a story of how some weekend campers made a game out of chopping aspen trees just for fun and how one of […]

  7. Hi Sam,

    It does not surprise me of the ignorance of some people.

    Stupidity is all around us.

    As photographers, all we can do is show the beauty through photography.

  8. What a sad thing to come across this evidence of thoughtless destruction. It wasn’t the only example, either, unfortunately. I think it behooves us to do more than bear silent witness… so I’m glad you’ve posted this.

    On the other images, I particularly enjoy the skeletal-looking driftwood…

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