Fires burn again. Way too close for comfort.
Ah, the nervous system. I am thankful for the systems that keep us alive – yet this morning, mine has worn me out a bit.
All Western dwellers, and certainly us Coloradans are on high alert this fire season. As of yesterday, 7 fires were burning across the state including the horrific Black Forest fire near Colorado Springs. What seemed like a wet spring has turned into a dry summer with conditions perfect for fires starting and burning out of control. Three weeks ago we were evacuated from our Evergreen home due to the Blue Bell fire that burned up the road for us. Most likely we were never in danger, however this year the authorities will be extra cautious as the deaths by fire count last year was unacceptable. We appreciate the precautions and went through that evacuation relatively smoothly.
Yesterday, in the middle of a lovely day spent with my brother and nephew, an email popped up from my Kuehster Road neighbors about a fire way too close for comfort to that already fire ravaged area. I felt the shock hit my system and as I carried my computer in to show David, my words turned to mumbles, and then to deep sobs. Last weekend, we settled in to that property even further by putting up a precious yurt with the help of dear friends. Planning to spend more time there this summer, our compound includes our trailer “Flame”, a finished shipping container made into a workshop for David, and now the yurt on it’s lovely perch. The couple days we spent enjoying our new dwelling were the most precious since our fire last year. The ground cover is returning, young aspen groves are popping up, the wildflowers are going crazy. What was once burned out and stark is being taken over by budding life. Still uncertain about rebuilding there, the yurt is our way to spend more time and try it on.
The Lime Gulch fire was a severe threat to this plan. After collecting ourselves, we jumped into action to be of assistance to our neighbors and friends who were in harms way. Our pickup truck was at the land so we headed that way. As we pulled up, the billowing back cloud was eerily close to the one before. We stopped to watch flames explode in trees, helicopters dropping water, and slurry bombers buzzing by. We compared notes with neighbors who were choosing to stay, packing to leave – all as confused and upset as we were. Too close, too familiar, too much the same as before.
When the smoke got too thick, we left believing that we couldn’t possibly burn again. On the way out, we spoke with others and heard different news. Rumors were flying – it had jumped the river, we were now on level 3 evacuation – and from two different fire fighters: “It CAN burn again. Those burned out trees are now like match sticks.” Thinking we were immune, this piece of news hit us both in the chest. Again? Really, it can happen again?
Still we chose to leave. Going back to throw things together, pull out the trailer, empty the container and the yurt felt exhausting. Instead, we headed to meet our friends at our 12-step meeting where we bathed in love instead of fear.
This morning, I awake with my eyes sticking together from the smoke. I feel hungover and a bit silly for my worries. While we slept, the fire laid down over night as well.
Fire alerts remain on the news and in our hearts. Those that have walked through fire may still cringe and cry when it gets too close. I will be gentle with myself as I return to my new “normal” life in Evergreen. I believe those of us off of Kueshter Road who lost so much last year have been spared from this one. And I continue to send love to my people who remain close to the fiery beast. Fire is something you never forget – even after the smoke clears from the sky it is lodged in our hearts as a crack that may always remain.
Sitting on my sunny deck in Evergreen, looking at the blue sky clear of smoke, I understand why some of my neighbors left the mountains and will never return. And I understand why most of us stay.