Here in Colorado we’ve always been sky watchers.
But lately, since the High Park Fire I’ve become obsessed with watching the sky. I’m no longer looking at the way the clouds bunch up like stiff peaks of whipped cream ready to be plopped onto a strawberry shortcake, the mauve-pink-orange colored sunsets that remind me of a Tennessee Williams story, the apricot sunrises that open from a dark sky like a bite taken from a sweet, ripe plum, or the V of a flock of Canada Geese making their way from cornfield to pond.
Right now I’m not seeking these gifts from Colorado skies, though I expect in time they will again delight me.
These days I search the horizon for smoke plumes.
For two and a half weeks we were transfixed by what was happening in our beloved foothills. And the smoke that rose miles into the sky told us all was not well.
The grief in my heart was so big, so heavy, so seemingly unmanageable. Some days I didn’t know what to do to make the pain subside.
Like most residents here, I have wonderful memories of time spent in these hills.
Picnics, camping trips, horseback rides and hikes all flood into my consciousness.
My son practiced his rock skipping skills at Picnic Rock. I learned the names of wildflowers here, toasted marshmallows and dipped my toes in the Poudre.
There were many times when I just needed to get out of town, and a drive to Stove Prairie or Red Feather was the perfect outlet.
With our mountain playground so close, it’s always been a simple matter to escape suburban life and immerse myself in the wild. Even a few hours could refresh my spirit like nothing else.
We’ve finally had a bit of rain.
Firefighters have worked heroically, and this fire is three- quarters contained. The relief in town is almost palpable.
Sadly the fire seems to have sent a cousin south to roar across the mountains of Colorado Springs. And now those residents spend their days with eyes glued to the sky watching billowing smoke rise up from their beloved lands.
It’s been a devastating month for much of Colorado, but I know this: we will survive.
Homes can be rebuilt.
Hearts can be soothed.
Souls can be healed.
And while the landscape we love may look different, it will soon send up tiny green shoots. Life will return to our mountains. And we will love this version as much as ever.
We’re Coloradoans after all, and that’s an honor, a privilege, and most of all, a way of life.