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Mountain Bluebells -- Photo  Chris Carvalho/Lensjoy.com

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I moved to Oregon in 1981, one year after the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in nearby Washington.  Throughout the years, I have hiked the slopes of the mountain and watched the area slowly recover from the devastation.  Just twenty years later these beautiful Mountain Bluebells (Campanula rotundifolia) were growing in a spot bordering a remnant of forest along the Sheep Canyon trail, which travels through an area southwest of the crater.  

I recall the day I took this photograph that I twisted my ankle on the hike in.  It seemed to be fine at the time, so I continued with the hike.  Getting the photo required me to lie on the ground for two hours or so waiting for the light on the flowers to be just right and for there to be enough stillness in the air to eliminate any motion.  When I stood up again my ankle was quite painful, and I was several miles from my car.  I managed to walk out, helped by some aspirin, taking several breaks, and using my tripod as a crutch.  Due to my slow progress it got dark on the way back.  I reached the car long after dark, but was greatly relieved.  

What is so special about this picture is the light shining into the middle flower, making it glow like a tiny lantern.  The flowers were in the shade of a small grove of spruce trees, so the dark background made the bluebells stand out exactly as I wanted them to.  The texture of the petals looks like tissue paper, and the full detail view shows reddish pollen grains visible on the flower's anthers in the center.  The actual size of a single flower is only three-quarters of an inch.  

The interplay between these delicate creations and the mountain's violent geology awakens my curiosity.  That such awesome power can exist beside these flowers' quiet beauty gives me pause to wonder about our own place in the world, and the tender and fleeting balance of triumph, elegance, and vulnerability that are Nature's way.  

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Info:  Chromira digital print of Velvia 645 chrome, Fuji Crystal Archive CD paper
 

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All images, text, and design copyright Chris Carvalho.  Reproduction restricted to terms of the Limited Use Agreement.

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