Fire in the Sky

The fires came late that autumn, but they did come just the same.  Beyond a time long forgotten, lies an ancient mystery within familiar flames that are destine to accomplish a goal, set by an eternal clock.

The undaunted mystery of these flames prevail greatly in the isolated reaches and high peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains. An ancient land, where the mountain ranges are estimated to be the worlds oldest.

autumn changesFrom north to south and crossing the south eastern United States on a western angle, the fires begin to rage during the twilight days of summer. Word of its early flames reach out, across the land calling autumn fire chasers to the scene. Some fire chasers are known to migrate southward with the blaze, staying just ahead of the emptiness that will be left behind.

No one was present to witness the very first flicker of the fire that would once again set the world ablaze. Once it began, the internal combustion could not be stopped. This fire is not set by the hand of man, it's set by a perpetual fire storm that burns within, and builds to a dramatic climax over several weeks.

The brightly colored flames dominate the eye, as they stretch across the horizon. The incredible beauty that it bestows, draws you deep within the breast of its captivating mystique. The flames ignite the emotions of men women and children alike, giving them a warmth that lacks for words. Utterance of all vocal comments are resounded with awe. It's a fire that sparks the imagination, rational thought is void when contemplating this natural wonder.


The autumn fire is a perfect fire, it take no lives and spares no ground. It is a smokeless fire whose scent is the refreshing aroma of ripened earth. Its decomposition of natural ash, become the particles of air that we breathe. Its colors carpet the floors of the forest, fields and mountain slopes, while the residue of its lost life is absorbed into the earth becoming the nutrients of antiquity.

Cherahola skywayIn the valleys below, bystanders look to the mountain peaks, watching for signs of the jewel colored crowns, coming to life. Level by level, layer after layer, with each passing day the fire descends down the mountain slopes. The flames ripen until they consume all organic life in their path, with the exception of the prickly needles of the pine, and the rubber like leaves of the Mountain Laurel.

As the fires, move slowly down the slopes, it begins to alert the tillers of the soil and the fair weather enthusiast to hurry along. The time of growth has ended, the harvest must begin. The fires of autumn are rushing forth to once again, claiming all the land. These flames clean the slate of time, as though the winds of late autumn were a broom designed to sweep out the stores of grain left behind.

vivid autumn colorsSomewhere between mid mountain and the valley below, the fires reach their peak. The flames dance against the deep blue sky, defying the sight of our mind's eye. Crimson red, burnt orange, and golden flames of amber, these flames are so vivid that they set the sun's daily departure to shame.

The color rush is on. Gather the children, pick up the grandparents and head toward the flames. The spectacle will not last much longer, time is ruled by mother nature's cycle.

The roads into the great mountains increase with traffic as the fire rages on. Along the edges of black paved roads, fire chasers gather in stilled silence. Their eyes follow the path of the slow march of flames as the power of the fires grasp numerous strong holds on the valley's floor.

autumn roadFire chasers stand shoulder to shoulder, cameras clicking away, trying to capture the elusive essence of these smokeless flames. Some, bravely brake away from the main thoroughfare, gravitating right into the heart of the flames. Searching for hidden sights of burning colors, sights they hope to claim as their very own.

The flames seize each deciduous tree and every stalk of corn, wheat, grain and cane. The autumn fires force the very life out of nature's own, leaving behind a trail of orderly desolation, leaving the land barren once again. Gazing along the mountain ridges, toward the high heavens, the imagination is drawn upward, deeper into the intense colors of the majestic mountain tops. In the higher elevation, trees begin to display the scars of fallen leaves that have yielded themselves to the burning flames. Some trees of stubborn strength, continue to hold on to the very last flicker of color.

Further and further the fire chasers go, climbing toward the mountain crest. The brilliance of these colorful flames begin to slowly cease as they climb.

beautiful mountain road

Beyond the next turn, an abundance of noble trees are revealed, they have finally finished their autumn cycle, for them it is a time to sleep. With nearly a thousand feet to go, the signs of life are gone, barren forests now dominate the lands of the high peaks.

rock and iceThe fire chasers press on to the very top, experiencing the wonder of nature surrendering to another season gone by. As the fire chasers reach the peak, scattered snow marks the way, while patches of ice cling to the side of bare rock, claiming its own space in time for the months to come.

Once the fire chasers reach the summit, they stand in contemplation, dwarfed by a power greater than their own. In one trip up the mountain side, the emerald earth yielded itself to the autumn flames, and now, the cold solitude of winter has reached where the mountains touch the sky. Fire chasers gaze out across the horizon, looking down into the coves and valleys below, where the flames of autumn rage on.

From mountain peaks to valley floors, the fire chasers look upon the time line of mother nature's handiwork. On the mountain top they stand in the winter's cold, while those below bask in the warm autumn sun.

The time has come for the fire chasers to leave the solitude of the mountain top and descend back into the fire that neither burns nor smokes. It's time to give thanks, for the seasons have come full circle. It's time to cherish the memories of years past, as we eagerly anticipate the future of the new spring to come.

dramatic mountain view

The fires have cleansed the way for the coming of nature's new beginning.
The flames have consumed the earth's bounty once again...until next year...

the Highlander...

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