About The Cover : Summer + Fall 2022 | By Cabrini Klepper

Last Updated: May 15, 2022By

Mother Nature takes the crown as the queen of renewal. Photographer Townsend Bessent captured this extraordinary image at a the burn site of a spring wildland fire in Gypsum, Colorado. According to Bessent, the picture represents a poignant contrast between death and new life; the blade of grass signifies a beacon of hope emerging from chaos and destruction. Just as verdure drives through the earth, begins again and takes root — so can we: ready for renewal.

“This fire was human caused, yet fire-adapted ecosystems require significant disturbances in order to reproduce and flourish. The burn releases nitrogen back into the soil, life is reborn, and the ecosystem is often better off for it,” Bessentexplains. “I can’t help but make the comparison to ourselves — does it not often take significant disturbances in our lives for us to finally make a change for the better?”

Bessent says he felt blown away by Mother Nature’s ability to heal and replenish. His goal for the cover photo was to find a fresh burn and seek new life, but Bessent discovered burn sites regenerate quickly. Groundcover hurriedly sought to mend the landscape, limiting Bessent’s ability to capture what his imagination prophesized. He needed a compelling contrast between cessation and resurgence to symbolize new beginnings.

Eventually, on a day of mood-setting high-winds and rain, Bessent located the recent remnants of the Gypsum fire, which happened less than a week prior.

“The wind was scattering seeds over the flattened ground and moisture was providing the necessary means for life to begin again,” Bessent shares. “I left the site covered in soot, and with an overwhelming reverence for Mother Nature’s uncanny ability to heal.”

Fires play a significant role as a catalyst for change and rebirth. Bessent reflects on a Colombian tradition, where people burn a doll that represents the “old you” every New Year’s Eve.

“You can place all the things you want to change about yourself inside and allow the fire to help you begin anew,” Bessent conveys. “We can all be that little blade of grass.”

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My name is Charles Townsend Bessent. I go by Townsend because the full kit and caboodle is a mouthful, and it also happens to be what mom calls me. I’m a photographer based in Vail, Colorado. I’ve been making circles around the world from this valley for the past 14 years. I feel very fortunate to be able to use photography as a gateway to the kingdom of life experiences. I hope I get to stand back one day and put together the mosaic of a lifetime spent in pursuit of documentation of planet earth and all of the life forms that inhabit it.
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