On Monday I walked around Walden Ponds, birding. I had planned to be there the day before, for First Sunday birding with the Boulder Bird Club, but I had stayed up too late Saturday night and couldn’t get out of bed Sunday morning. So here I was, wandering slanted paths between a couple of gravel-pits-turned-ponds, when I noticed the birds were skulking and the air was hazy despite the fierce winds.

As I rounded the turn where the great horned owls nest in the winter, at about 11 o’clock, I smelled smoke and saw it in the air. It took a few moments for my mind to process the facts: It can’t be a controlled burn, I said to myself. It’s too windy today for any sensible person to set a fire. It must be a wildfire.

Smoke obscured some of the mountains; I couldn’t locate the exact source of the fire. I walked quickly back to the parking lot, and when I got home to Broomfield, my husband was listening to the police radio. People were searching for a large group of kids camping somewhere in the vicinity of the fire, in Fourmile Canyon.

I was planning to write this post about the small events of the past week, a series of slight mishaps that could have been averted with more thought. I wanted to connect my tendency to avoid planning to my ambitions to travel, and how I knew unplanning would get me into trouble at some point. I wondered if I would be able to cope.

But then I heard, via a networking group, of a woman whose home burned while she was in Seattle. She didn’t get a chance to save even a few things. After that, I wasn’t in the mood to write about a concert, or a meal, or a movie.

Travel presents opportunities for growth. So do sudden events that rearrange our lives. I haven’t been subject to many of them, and for that I’m grateful.

Blessings to those who live in Fourmile Canyon and the other areas affected by the fire.

Leave A Comment

  1. dana September 8, 2010 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    It helps me stay in the moment to know it could all be gone. I can’t even imagine the shock that people who have lost their homes are going through. I am safely in Newlands, but have been having a really hard time continuing on as usual.

    Maybe I will be able to get something accomplished tomorrow 🙂

  2. Beth Partin September 8, 2010 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    Dana, I am having that same problem. I don’t know if it’s the fire or all the stuff going on with my dad.

  3. saint September 23, 2010 at 5:54 am - Reply

    That woman sounds lucky. Not that she didn’t get to save anything, but that she wasn’t there when the fire hit.

    I heard that was a pretty crazy fire.

  4. Beth Partin September 23, 2010 at 7:47 am - Reply

    I never did hear exactly how it started. One story was that someone backed into a propane tank, and it exploded. Another was that the fire came from someone’s fire pit in the neighborhood. In any case, the fire got bad very quickly because the winds were so high that day.