Holidays, 2015

Holidays, 2015
A Winter Scene - red door, a dusting of snow, and a vintage bicycle

Friday, July 6, 2012

Back from the Ashes...

Our winter was extremely was unusual and even though many of us loved the mildness, lack of a need to shovel driveways, easier travel, etc., we all knew it was NOT a good thing.  Normally, March and April are our snowiest months.... and even though I'm 'itching' to get into the garden, I know that my time will come after Mother's Day....mid-May is always the time to start planting, after the last freeze.  Still a freeze can come, but it's less apt to do so.  This year was so different.  March and April were warm and sunny, even hot.  The winds blew fiercely, and the plants and the trees and the ground became drier and drier. We knew it was leading up to a scenario of trouble. Everyone feared the potential for fire, but no one knew its reality.  There were several smaller fires, most burning uninhabited lands.  Most were quickly put out. Then, on June 9, 2012, we were looking at some land and I noticed a small plume of smoke.  That night, the wind raged.  We could hear its force insider our home.
The wind was so strong that a canopy set up at a local park blew down our street and around midnight, we went out, took it down, folded it up and set it on the side of the road...

The fire quickly grew out of control.  Local firefighters tried fighting the fire alone, along with other local and volunteer groups....soon it was too big to handle and national help was needed.  The temperatures were in the 100's for 7 days straight and the winds were ferocious and unpredictable.  The town felt as if it was under siege.  Many used the word 'apocolyptic' to describe the catastrophe. 
From our neighborhood more than 2 weeks after the fire started

smoke and more smoke; a daily vision
 The air quality was terrible and still is, but it rained last night and today is the first day I saw crystal blue skies all around me....almost a month ago that first plume was sighted.
at this point, nearly 3 weeks into the fire, there are 3 separate plumes of smoke

 We were up in the mountains that day..... we videotaped a road called Buckhorn Canyon has a babbling brook along it and you can hear its gurgle in our videotape.  There was land for sale....

Then, over our shoulders came a loud explosion and while still filming, we saw a mushroom-like plume rise above the trees.... the fire had can hear Rod's voice in the videotape on his phone saying, "We're going to be leaving now...."  That area was so badly charred, but we didn't learn that until days later when fire crews were able to get into areas that were burning....some of the terrain is so rugged and rough. Animals were coming into town, trying to escape the fires.  We saw many mother deer with their fawns.  A moose was sighted in a neighborhood walking down the sidewalk.  18 eaglets were taken to a local wildlife refuge for rehabilitation; they had been abandoned by their frightened parents.  I know many animals must have died in the fire; I can't even begin to think about it. 259 homes were burned to the ground.

Many homes were saved, however, and people all over town made signs to show their gratitude.
people left signs all over our town thanking the firefighters for saving their properties

 As if this fire wasn't enough, another one started in Colorado Springs, 100 miles from here....that one even more destructive, although much smaller.  My granddaughters came to stay with me for a few days during that time....
I had my granddaughters for a few days while my oldest daughter and her husband were under pre-evacuation orders.  We did a lemonade stand for the humane society, since they had taken in some many of the evacuee's animals and needed help with food and supplies.  My daughter, a recent grad of vet school, volunteered her time caring for animals that were injured, displaced, or lost at the CSU hospital.

More thank-yous for firefighters

Seeing helicopters was an every day sight for the past 3 weeks.  They would dip into the reservoirs to take in water to douse on the flames

This entire skyline was completely burned and black.  All the trees were burned and battered soldiers, still standing on the mountaintops.

This is the street I live on.... this picture taken from the upstairs bedroom

the sun trying to come through the smoke

Fort Collins in the smoke

Everything seemed shrouded in smoke these past few weeks

Horsetooth Reservoir...12 minutes from us.... homes lost here as the fire came over the peaks and into the neighborhoods

At night, you could see the was so frightening

The fire spread to approximately 130 square miles

 Yesterday, I saw images of our rivers running black....thick with ash and debris. These were crystal clear mountain rivers where anglers come from all over the world to fish world-class trout....

It's not quite the middle of July and there is hot dry weather ahead....more chances for more fires in the areas of drought-stricken forests, but there is incredible hope, perseverance, and endurance in this state and in this community..... so I do want you to know that there are MANY gorgeous places here in Colorado.... it's a tragedy of what has happened, but there are hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and other disasters, natural and man-made that happen everywhere....

It's about picking up, dusting off, and starting over....

There are so many things to be thankful for.  There was a huge fire last year and the people who bought our log home lost their home in that fire.  This year, that home was a refuge to friends of theirs who were displaced during this fire....that makes me feel really good; when I miss my home so badly that I ache inside, I know that good people who lost everything now call that home....

I have all of my pictures, my quilts, my teacups.  But most importantly, I have the love of family and friends and nothing else really matters.... good health, love, and a cup of tea. 

                         For now....let it 
 Let it sink into the soil and feed the roots, water the crops, and fill the rivers and streams.  Let the reservoirs be replenished and let the sky be cleansed.  I know it has the potential for flooding, rock slides, mud slides, and other disasters, but we need it so badly....

At this moment, I would just like to send out positive vibes to our entire country and to our entire world.... let their be peace, love and harmony...

In each moment, there is a lesson and I have learned many these past few weeks...and for that, I am blessed.


  1. I am so thankful that you, your family and friends were not harmed. We have been praying for YOU! On Friday the amount of rain we had was the amount we are supposed to have for the whole of July. I pray that some of it goes your way my dear friend! You take care! Love, Jennifer

    1. Thank you for your loving post Jennifer----we got some wonderful rain the past two days and it's been months since we've had rain, so I absolutely am sure that the power of the prayers of so many brought forth the rain....


  2. Dear Joann,
    Thank you so much for your wonderful post. It chronicles the tragic events. It shares with others what forest fires can do...shows all what it is like to live nearby while fires rage. And yet, you share the strength and hope and perseverance of survival. The disasters do pass, but it is love, help, and caring of our family and neighbors that endure. We are blessed to have you, your post, and your lovely writing! Sending prayers for good health, good fortune, and peace! Love and hugs, Sherry xoxo

    1. Thank you Sherry!!!! I don't think that anyone came out of this unscathed.... it touched everyone's lives; however, I do wholeheartedly agree that love and caring from friends, strangers, family....all form an unmistakable bond that heals and gives hope for the future.... lots of good lessons learned on this one for sure!!

  3. Hi Joann,
    I am very thankful you are well and safe..along with your friends and family. I am a military spouse who has lived in Colorado two times...once as a young girl up in the Broadmoor area, married at the Academy chapel, and last year for 8 months in the Monument area. My husband and I love Colorado and call it our second home. I was privileged to be in Colorado for my husbands return from Afghan. a week before the fires exploded. For some reason, I took over 700 pictures of the places we visited...and now believe that I was meant to have these images as a reminder of the beauty before the fires. It was devastating for us to watch the fire from Waldo Canyon destroy so many families lives....but, as you stated, the people of Colorado will rise above the ashes and persevere....and beauty is still is everywhere. Thank you for sharing your story. Blessings to you, your family and all the wonderful folks in Colorado. Erica

    1. Erica,
      Thank you for your note---I was a military spouse for 21 years and did live in Monument as well. Thank you for reading my blog and yes, I truly believe you were meant to take those photographs...maybe you'll be able to share them with others who would love to remember...
      Blessings for a renewed hope in the spirit of humanity....

  4. What a touching post, dear Joann. It makes me so sad to think of all the devestation you described; people losing their homes, animals being displaced, and the hopelessness in mother nature's course. Thank goodness for your positive nature and people like you who choose to see the good in everything. I pray that Colorado receives the much needed rain that it deserves. God bless you, the firefighters, your daughter Amanda, your granddaughters and all who have come together to help their community. Take care, sweet friend! Sending love and hugs!

    Rosinda xoxo


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