On an evening walk, I rounded a curve in the trail to see this.
I’ve passed this tree, which grows near the main path at Columbia Park, countless times over the past year and a half. But never, apparently, in the correct light.
Those shreds of luminous crimson are the peeling bark of Prunus serrula, also known as paperbark cherry, Tibetan cherry, or birch bark cherry. The light from the setting sun shone through the papery curls and set them alight.
The phenomenon lasted only a moment, but it was the highlight of my walk.