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Horizon Energy Wind Farm Turbines – Near Highway 97 & Bettas Road – Kittitas County, WA

Note that the ground in this image is brunt over. In fact, this spot and another 36 square miles was ablaze for nearly the entire month of August. Known as the Taylor Bridge Fire, it raged from the deepest canyons, then up a couple of thousand feet over these ridge tops and then down into the canyons again.

Over and over it went, and in the process it wiped around 100 homes and out buildings. When I drove through, less than a week after the fire was contained, the ground, the air, and one’s senses were filled with visions of blackened land, the smell of fire gone cold, and how randomly the fire changed lives and the land.

The Pacific winds blow over the Cascade Mountains and nearly incessantly across these ridge tops in Kittitas County. From this point heading east to the Vantage Gorge on the Columbia River, some 40 miles away, all the major ridge tops are filling up with wind turbines.

My relationship with the land is rather complicated and some days I find myself despising these towers because they have permanently destroyed the pristine horizon between the land and the sky; a line I value you greatly. Then there are days where I find myself up in the horizon, my senses filled with the smell of a fire once goaded by those Pacific winds, but now pushing the clouds and light around to revel the slender, cylindrical beauty of these towers.

In a very odd way this same conflicted emotion, reveled here by the winds and the turbines, also shows up when I am in small town and I find myself needing a new pair of reading glasses at 9:00 AM on a Sunday morning. It is then I am damn glad that Wal-Mart came to town and just as depressed by the burned out businesses I drive by to get there, destroyed by economic winds no less powerful than those Pacific winds that pushed fire across the land.

2012.09.18 Update:

A new fire erupted today in the general area where this photograph was taken and from the early reports the Taylor Mountain fire could be good sized. The chances of it running for an entire month are not as great as the Taylor Bridge fire because the Pacific Northwest weather is beginning to transition to the wetter fall season. The poor people that live along Highway 97 between Ellensburg and Cle Elum are having a summer of devastation.

Copyright 2012 By Katherine Johnson – All Rights Reserved