The heat finally broke a bit – and by broke, I mean that the high for today is meant to just nudge up against ninety, rather than climbing high up into the hundreds as it’s taken to doing over the past couple of weeks.
For Boulder, these recent oppressive heat waves have been something to complain about moreso than anything else. Lawns everywhere started to take on a sickly yellowish hue, herb gardens and flower beds have withered and shrunk in protest, and even taking a stroll outside has gone from an enjoyable afternoon activity to a downright miserable torture session.
Unfortunately, for many other parts of Colorado and the West, the heat has been taking on a more sinister form. As of yesterday morning, there were eight wildfires raging on in Colorado, with one of them burning just six miles from the Bluegrass Festival we were at this past weekend, and sending a smoky haze across the town of Telluride. As I watched the news yesterday morning, I thought about all of the poor people affected by these fires, and it crossed my mind that I couldn’t even fathom what it would be like to have to leave my home behind in a panic, in search of refuge from the greedy and destructive flames.
And then yesterday afternoon, just as I had arrived at work and had settled in at a chopping board ready to break down some whole chickens, I got a call from my neighbor, who clued me in to potentially dangerous situation happening right outside our doorstep. She had told me that a fire had started up in the Flatirons – those very mountains I speak of living right at the base of – and as I dashed out the back door and gazed West and North, I saw the thick gray plumes of smoke rise up over the crest of Boulder’s signature landmark.
She was careful not to panic me, but I could hear a certain concern in her voice that I suppose one only recognizes when there is genuinely something to be concerned about. We are the third house down from the famed park, and she the second, and with nothing separating the open space and our homes but a singular and skinny paved road, a fire this close to home poses a definite threat.
I called James and he headed home to make sure that we had everything in order that we would need, should we need to make a quick exit. File cabinets, wedding albums, important documents, jewelry…..those were the obvious items. And I don’t even need to say that before all of those ‘things’ comes our dear and beloved Winnie. But as I stood there wiping the sweat off my brow, wearing my white coat and dark blue apron smeared with harissa, it was hard to wrap my head around leaving anything we couldn’t fit into our Audi station wagon behind to potentially be erased in a cloud of smoke. What does one bring when you only have a trunk to fill and a couple of quick hours to do it? Our wedding china? Some favorite clothes? Do you bother with toiletries and personal items? Or do you focus on trying to find those things that are irreplaceable, but of no use to you when you have nothing, like the first birthday card I got from James, a favorite scarf I picked up in Aix en Provence three years ago, and Lily’s old leash and collar?