Posts Tagged ‘Steller jay’

Pueblo cliff dwellers left a mysterious legacy for us to unravel. Where did they go from here? Photo by Pat Bean

 “If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.” Eleanora Duse

While I know the landscape will eventually recover, the extent of scenes such as this saddened me. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Day 19

 The 15-mile twisting, steep drive up to Mesa Verde’s Farview Visitor Center was a cruel lesson about the destructive nature of fire. In the year 2000, over one-third of the park’s 52,000 acres burned. Unlike the Yellowstone fires, this Colorado park’s pinyon pine landscape has not done much visible recovery.

As one who had visited the park before the lightning caused fire, I was devastated to see the drastic changes. And I had plenty of time to look as my drive up was often interrupted by road construction crews. I saw one lone squirrel in a burned out tree surrounded by a forest of burned out trees and wondered about its survival, and about those animals that didn’t survive.

 A view from Park Point, at 8,572 feet and the highest spot in the park, showed the immensity of the lifeless, black devastation. I would have gasped in pain at the sight if the short hike up to the fire lookout hadn’t left me without gasping air.

 The up side – I’m always looking for one – is that the fires were kept away from the park’s other treasures. Mesa Verde protects hundreds of 12th and 13th century Pueblo cliff dwellings. I also know that fire plays a role in the environment and that eventually, like Yellowstone after its fires, Mesa Verde will recover. It’s just doing it much slower.

An RV neighbor in the valley below where I was staying said he watched the huge 2000 fires. “You could see the flames and feel the heat. ” He also noted that the fires that had scarred the landscape revealed hundreds of additional Pueblo historical sites.

Meanwhile, as if to say she was sorry for the devastation,  Mother Nature made it a blue bird day for me. In areas where green still ruled the day, I saw a Steller jay, a pinyon jay and a western bluebird, each wearing its brightest and unique shade of blue.

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