So, I was working on this funny post, about summer, and how unlike most moms, I actually kind of hate it. I’m nailing .gifs, and soaring along, and then I just stopped, and can’t seem to find my funny bone.
My hometown is on fire.
Almost exactly one year ago, I watched in horror as the Waldo Canyon Fire took out 346 homes in Colorado Springs. I was glued to the TV, facebook, twitter, and the FD Scanner, listening as spot fires flared blocks away from my parents’ house. God Bless all those firefighters, especially the ones who kept it from crossing HWY 24, and kept my parents safe. These were the images we saw, fire sweeping down the mountain to devour 346 homes.
The fire was still burning when we arrived, and the images of those decimated areas are something burned into my mind. When we went back at Christmas, we drove through, and said a prayer of thanks that more lives had not been taken. It was a miracle the firefighters saved what they did.
One year later, somehow, it’s not only happening, but it’s worse.
Black Forest, the gorgeous, wooded area bordering the North end of Colorado Springs is a living Hell right now, engrossed in a wild fire that has devoured over 360 homes already.
This is the most destructive fire in the history of Colorado.
You’ll have to forgive my distraction for a moment, but when I say my thoughts and prayers are with my friends and family at home in Colorado, it’s the truth. My thoughts are there, with the high school friend who lost her home, with one of my friends since 6th grade, waiting to hear if her home is still standing. It’s with my cousin’s sister, who’s brand new home was going to be closed-on yesterday, and now they don’t know if it’s still there. It’s with a family that I have admired and adored for years, praying my friends’ parents didn’t lose their home. It’s with the strangers I don’t know as they hear the list read aloud of the houses that are a total loss.
Mostly, it’s with my battle-buddy, Running Woman, whose home sits a block off the mandatory evacuation line.
When she PCS’d to Colorado (too long ago, I might add), I told her that she was going to love it. That the air was crisp and clean, and she would adore the mountains. I made her a book, and slipped one of my favorite little printables in the front:
Then I wrote her THIS blog, and told her to get her butt to Colorado and bloom, and I’ve been lucky enough to see her every time I go home. And I go home a lot. I can’t help it, you can take the girl out of Colorado, but never Colorado out of the girl, and the truth is… Well, this happens once every six months or so:
Colorado Springs isn’t just my home, it’s the only stable thing this Army Brat had. It’s where my grandfather retired out of NORAD, where I would visit in the summers. It was “home” before I really knew what “home” without PCS’ing meant. It’s where I learned to swim in the pool at the Broadmoor with my cousins. It’s where I hiked Bear Creek Trail with no parents, and learned to roll down the hills at Bear Creek Park. It’s where I fell in love with the player-piano at Fargos. When my dual-military parents retired there when I was 12, it was more like coming home instead of moving again.
Colorado is where I really grew up, where I had my first, and only real taste of civilian life. It’s where I graduated high school, met my very best friend, who is so cool that she doesn’t even have a blog-code-name, just the best friend. It’s where I met Jason, fell in love with him, married him, and where we brought our first two sons into the world. Colorado is so much more than home. It’s the spark in my soul, and the roots to my wings. It’s my past, our past, and our future when we retire. When it’s being eaten alive by the voracious flames of a wild fire, I can’t seem to sit still, or keep my thoughts on any task beside checking the latest evacuation map. I want to be there, volunteering my time, dropping off donations, making Running Woman leave her damn nearly-evac house and take her in. Yeah.
All I’ve heard in my head the last few days, is Adele’s “Hometown Glory.”
The fire is only 5% contained. It’s raging, and I hesitate to use the words “out of control,” because I’m praying I wake up tomorrow and those firefighters and pilots are kicking its butt.
Do you know what a thankful Colorado Springs looks like? This was 4th of July last year, as we went home from our family’s annual 4th of July celebration at Garden of the Gods.
These people are lined up on 4th of July with signs, cheering on the firefighters as they come back down the mountain, exhausted, filthy, and flat-out heroic.
That’s the thing about Colorado. It’s a community I’m so proud of. One that rebuilds, time and time again. One that breaks down the fence to save their neighbor’s dogs because the Black Forest is now off limits, and the owners couldn’t get back in. Colorado bands together, helps one another, and REBUILDS.
I’m so proud of my home state, even as my heart is breaking for it. Black Forest isn’t the only fire raging in Colorado. We nearly lost a national landmark, the Royal Gorge Bridge, but through the devastation there, that bridge is still standing, giving us hope. HOPE.
Tonight, I’m going to bed just like I have the last couple of nights, praying for mercy for Black Forest, and my friends, and their homes, and RAIN. Forgive my distraction of late, but my body may be here in NY, but my heart and soul are home in Colorado.
And if there’s one thing that Waldo Canyon taught the Springs? Well…
Houses are homes, but it’s the people who make Colorado what it is. No fire can destroy that.