Colorado is Burning

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I’ve always been a big non-believer in luck, at least the kind that bleeds bank accounts dry because it’s tied to an arbitrary sequence of numbers that careen down a treacherous path to nowhere. The definition of luck I subscribe to isn’t random. It can’t be bought or sold. It’s more of that mathematical equation based on the concept of preparation plus opportunity yielding positive results…a fortunate position that’s actually earned through hard work, dedication, and skill.

With devastating fires consuming large chunks of my state, I’ve thought a lot about luck lately, and how my perception of its significance is changing as quickly as the landscape morphs outside, both products of a caustic natural catastrophe fueled by a flame that flickers and fades only to catch the wind and ignite under a hazy cloak of dark sky.

Image via notmytribe.com

Colorado is one of those rare places that captures the attention of anyone with vision. If you’re fortunate enough to get here, you never want to leave, because the perspective inspires artists and poets, athletes and day-trippers, and you and me to harness a small piece of the beauty surrounding us and do more. Become better. Grow stronger. Rise to the occasion of a 360-degree view.

But Colorado is burning, and I want to know why.

Image via canoncitydailyrecord.com

Someone who’s deeply religious might say that the fires are simply God’s Will. I’m not that person, because many of the things I want to see stretch beyond the grasp of my mind’s reach and are firmly rooted in the beauty of the landscape that is now being destroyed. Any higher power I might believe in doesn’t cherry pick victims.

Image via foxnews.com

A scientist could point to Global Warming, one of the probable causes of the lingering beetle infestation that’s killed so many of our trees and created forests full of kindling. While that’s arguably a factor, trees don’t spontaneously combust.

Image via handcraftedsites.com

An ecologist may speculate that the fires are simply a means of deforestation, and thus, a necessary part of life’s natural cycle, but this point of view doesn’t take into account the loss of hundreds of homes and displacement of tens of thousands of evacuees who sit in a daze on second-hand sleeping bags with the pins and needles of loss stinging their spines.

Image via tampabay.com

As I watch the smoke plume into the sky, surrounding and swallowing the mountain views I’ve always taken for granted, there’s one thing that’s clear. Short of the sickening thought of an arsonist lighting a match and letting it fly, there isn’t a single spot to place blame. These fires belong to everyone and no one, because as much as any other factor, they are the result of luck. Horrible, catastrophic, painful, defective, damaged luck.

Image via bloomberg.com

Colorado is burning, and similar to the view out my window, the way I see the role that luck plays in life is different today than it was last week. There’s the luck tied to opportunity…a cooler day, a subtle shift in the wind patterns, or a sudden storm over the foothills that sneaks up unannounced. We need that.

Image via forbes.com

Then there’s the luck associated with preparation that will impact the trajectory of this fire…the complex matrix of organizers, first responders to the scene, and thousands of volunteers working 24/7 to help those in need. Without them, this fire would be a raging incumbent, unchallenged and out of control.

Image via coloradodaily.com

Finally, there’s the luck I didn’t quite believe in before this catastrophe…call it serendipity, kismet, karma, or a fluke. It’s that point in time when everything right or something deeply wrong happens for no apparent reason, and life simply looks up. Or down.

My state has been on the wrong side of luck for too many days in a row now, and we’re all trying to do whatever we can to force change. Thanks to the generous residents of this amazing place I’m fortunate enough to call home, a group of us will take a truckload of supplies down to Colorado Springs today in an attempt to help those who are fighting future loss, and others mourning the things that are gone.

Image via 2amazonaws.com

But in an attempt to somehow brush up against that serendipity, kismet, karma, or fluke from above, I’m also crossing my fingers, doing a rain dance, and wishing on a star with the hope that the skies will clear, the fires will retreat, tomorrow will be better, and the kind of luck we need so badly will come back around to the right side.

If you would like to contribute to the fire relief efforts, place considering making a donation to the American Red Cross http://www.coloradoredcross.org.

84 responses »

    • That’s horrible, Laura. I hope she’s OK, and that her home was saved from the fire. There are so many people all over Colorado, and the nation for that matter, who have suffered terrible loss due to the wildfires this summer. It’s truly heartbreaking. =/

    • Thanks, Barry. Will let you know if there’s anything of concern, but so far, we’re safe.
      Please tell everyone I said hi…I heard you’re going to be a farmer for a couple of days.
      =)

    • What a sweet note. The winds have been moderate and the temperature has dropped the last couple of days, so the fire is now 15% contained. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but three days ago it actually doubled in size overnight. Thanks so much for the love, it makes a difference… =)

    • Shalvika,
      Those pics are of a fire that is about 30 miles from my home, so it would take a lot for it to spread all the way to our house. The bigger danger is a completely different one starting because it’s so unusually dry and hot in Colorado this summer. Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment. I appreciate it!
      Stacie

  1. Stacie, well done! You captured so perfectly how we are all feeling. Thank YOU for making a difference by organizing the neighborhood drive to bring supplies to the firefighters.

  2. Stacie, well done! You captured perfectly how we are all feeling! Thank YOU for making a difference by organizing the neighborhood drive to bring supplies to the firefighters. Hopefully, all that positive karma will help bring some GOOD luck!

    • Lesia,
      It was SO nice to see you yesterday. Thanks for all of your help. It seems like the weather has been favorable for the last two days so maybe the positive karma makes a difference. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.
      =)

  3. What a thought-provoking and painful post. I had never thought about this way…

    I work with first responders, and I’m always amazed at the stories they tell. Being right out in front of it all must make them question, as you have, luck. I know people say that losing your home is not as painful as losing a life, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make you feel like you’ve died a bit inside.

    Sending lots of positive thoughts to the people of Colorado.

    • JandT,
      Thanks for the sweet, thoughtful note. What do you do with first responders? Just curious. I think they’re the bravest people on the planet.
      Sending love back your way,
      Stacie

      • I work for a publishing company that creates pocket guides and mobile apps for EMS professionals, firefighters, nurses, military personnel and various other first responders. I cannot believe the difference these people are making every single day. It amazes me.

        Did you know 71% of firefighters are volunteers? Crazy, huh? I was blown away when I first learned that.

      • It is crazy. Having a decent idea of what they’re going through in CO right now, I find it amazing. My brother-in-law is a (paid) firefighter here. He’s probably the most selfless person I know. I hope my kids somehow get that gene from his side of the family, because I can be such a pain in the ass. =)

    • SCB,
      I’ve missed you! I’ve been totally lame with blog reading/commenting lately. Will stop by to see what you’re up to. Are you REALLY related to Le Clown or is that relationship some kind of blog-trick-family-but-not-really thingy?

      Thanks for your sweet note,
      GG

      • Stacie! It’s always good to hear from you. With the tragedy going on and your day to day life, I can imagine you have a lot on your plate. It’s really inspiring to hear that you’re helping out. Le Clown and I aren’t related — I don’t think — lol! I referred to myself as Auntie Sandee in a couple of my posts and Le Clown took that and ran — you know how he is! It’s our running joke ever since! Take care Stacie — I’ll be thinking of you and putting the good vibes out in your direction…

      • OK, it’s somehow comforting to know that you are not, in fact, related to LCOF. And thanks for the good vibes. They must be working, b/c the fire is slowing being contained… xoxo

  4. You really do write beautifully, Stacie. These photos are heartbreaking. I’ve been watching some of it on the news and it’s terrible to see so many houses and so much land devastated. And I prefer to think of “luck” as something that randomly sometimes works for you, or against you. If I thought that it really favored/condemned certain people/places, I’d probably never leave the house again.

    Having said that, I really am glad that the winds and weather kept things from being even worse than they already are.

  5. Your telling the story makes us realize the danger folks are in just now, I used to live in Denver my thoughts and prayers are with everybody there, also a co-worker of mine has a daughter and son-in-law stationed at Fort Carson, I can only imagine how those that were not brought up in Colorado are feeling when these wildfires come so close to their homes.I pray all friends and family are safe also those putting their life on the line to protect everybody.

    • Mary,
      What a sweet, kind note. Thanks so much for your positive thoughts. I’m in awe of all of the first responders and people who risk their lives to save anything they can for others. Truly amazing. Thanks for taking the time to write.
      Stacie

  6. Stacie,
    I talked to my daughter earlier in the week – confirming that she was NOT house-sitting in a fire zone. With the Western wildfires, Tropical Storm Debby and the middle of the country melting under 100+ degree temps I can’t help but think about the fragility of existance, priorities and what I, personally, can do to help. I’d gladly don sackcloth and ashes if I thought it would serve some purpose. Your suggestion to financially support the Red Cross seems like a better option though.

    And, just in case, I’m sending a constant stream of prayers, positive imagery, happy thoughts and pleas for clemency into the cosmos.

    Colorado’s never far from my thoughts, Nikki

    • Nikki,

      You are such a doll. I’m so happy to hear that your daughter is safe and appreciate all of your prayers and thoughts directed toward CO. Luckily, we’re not near the path of these fires, but I agree, the blanket of 100 degree temps the whole nation seems to be under is s-c-a-r-y in a big picture kind of way.

      xoxo
      Stacie

    • Living in Colorado is like being in a dream, but not a pipe dream. You could TOTALLY move here! We need more guys like Hubs keeping everything tight and more awesomely talented writers like you.

      • Hubs and I talk about it all the time (it’s his fantasy home too). Every time he brings it up I tell him “two hours. Give me two hours and I’ll have us all packed.” And thank you for the compliment. It’s extremely flattering given the source.

  7. Stacie you can be amazingly quick-witted and sharp on the one hand and then so wonderfully heartfelt and genuine on the other….you are such a talented writer. Glad you and your family are ok.

    • You just made my month with that amazing comment, and it’s only day #1. You know, I really do blame my Gemininess for toggling back and forth between trying to inspire and somehow trying to be irreverent, and I really appreciate that you noticed. I’m feeling the need to post about my most recent visit to my OB next. Somehow light feels right with the current state of affairs in CO. Thanks so much for your well-wishes too. We’re all fine, and I appreciate your thoughts.

  8. I’m crying again…..for all the people affected by this horrible catastrophe! And you know me, I am doing a lot of praying also for people I don’t even kinow! No, God did not do this, but he does lay warmth and love on the hearts of you and your friends to be first responders! Thanks to all of you from way back here in Kentucky!

    Love,
    Mom

  9. I’m glad to know that you and you’re family are ok Stacie, though I feel heartbroken for Colorado! I hope that there would be a lot of good doing people who will be willing to re-plant the burnt spaces.

    • Rana,

      You’re so sweet. Thank you, as always, for your kind thoughts. There are SO many people ready to help replant and rebuild. The fire is 20% contained now, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it isn’t spreading, which is a bit of a miracle.

      Stay well,
      Stacie

  10. The pictures and your words bring the tragedy of Colorado home. I think most of us are watching in terrible awe right now and wondering what we can do, of course other than donate what we can the answer is little to nothing.

    I am happy so far you are safe.

  11. Scary!
    But you make an good point. With the large number of people and places in the country, there are bound to be events that can only be chalked up to luck. A scientific theory is worth its salt if its predictions come true at a rate better than sheer chance. And sheer chance can be a bitch. Occasionally, some trees will get torched for reasons we cannot completely comprehend.
    I remember getting a bunch of warnings and the threat of evacuation for hurricane Irene some time ago in NYC, but that got resolved. It was scary for a while though.
    Take care.

  12. A truly horrifying situation. I heard somewhere a week ago that there was a search for an arsonist, which reminded me of a terrorist threat a year or so ago, and a plot to start forest fires. I sure hope that isn’t the case here.

    • I think it could be an arsonist. The city officials assume arson unless they can prove otherwise, which seems kind of odd to me, but I have no doubt it’s possible. It WOULD be horrifying if that were the situation. Thanks for the comment, Daniel, and kind thoughts.

  13. I’m happy to hear that you are safe Stacie and it is terribly disturbing how Colorado & the West is burning. Every morning I’m waking up in Wyoming to the smell and cover of smoke from all the fires around us. We’re all hoping for cooler weather, rain, and that no one else loses their home.

    • I’m so with you Jed. Yesterday the smell of smoke was pervasive, and the temps hit between 90 and 100 every day. Such strange weather all over. I’m a big believer in global warming, but I’ve got my fingers crossed too. Thanks for the sweet note. =/

  14. Ugh. Amazing and devastating images. And wonderful words, as always. We also experienced the worst fire in NM history, shortly before the one consuming CO. But not as many structures were lost. They say we here in the Southwest just aren’t getting sufficient snowpack anymore–to soak the ground and create sap in the trees (beetle-fighting), to give the forests a fighting chance in summer. La Nina? Global Warming? And yes, luck.

    • I think global warming is a huge component of this whole mess, and we won’t even know what it means until we’re wearing fire retardant suits on a daily basis and are completely unable to go outdoors. So sorry to hear that NM is in the same situation. So much natural beauty destroyed. It’s as heartbreaking to me as anything else.

  15. No, that is not God’s will. Definitely not. Yoiu’re right, Stacie, it is not.

    I would argue anyone who subscribes to the deterministic point of view and doesn’t think that such catastrophe is actually preventable if only we apply the perfect measures.

    Subhan Zein

    #PS: Your list of followers is waaaayyyy larger than mine, so double congratz on that! 😉

    • Yeah but my followers include everyone who has ever known me…family, friends, ex-boyfriends, the kid who bags my groceries at the store…you have HUNDREDS of WP bloggers who like every post you write. That trumps my grandmother’s fake avatar!

  16. Stacie, can I just take a moment to send you and all the people in Colorado all love and prayers from Australia,

    We are far too well aware of the horrors of such fires. A couple of years ago we lost over 100 people in Victoria, including, nearly, but thankfully not, my wife, daughter and daughter’s best friend, who were trapped in a small town up country one evening with one road out, which had been closed, and no way of knowing if they could leave in the morning. That was the longest night of my life, I can tell you.

    We will definitely make a contribution to the America Red Cross to help with relief efforts.

    In general, I do think we need to re-think the places we put homes. The so-called tree-change is a wonderful thing, but parts of wild country always have, and always will, burn. It is sad, but if we live in these areas, we are inevitably taking a risk. There comes a point where the risk outweighs the benefits. It’s harsh, but I fear it is true.

    Anyway, to take your mind off things, and the heat, have a look at a completely different sort of blog. I hope it is soothing.

    http://wellthisiswhatithink.wordpress.com/2012/07/02/is-this-sculpture-well-yes-actually-i-think-it-is/

    • Hey Yolly,

      Great to hear from you. You make spot-on points. I can’t imagine what you went through a couple of years ago. The loss of 100 lives? That’s too painful to think about. I’m so happy your family and friends made it out.

      Thanks for stopping by and for leaving such a thoughtful comment. Will check out your post right now.

      Stacie

  17. My goodness. How terrible!

    Poor people and animals. Truly terrible. It reminded me of the fires in California a few years back. A friend of mine (one of the best Balboa teachers in the world) lost her Santa Barbara house. When I saw her at the Canadian Swing Championships that year, out of an impulse, I decided to give her one of our kaboom t-shirts (that was the first years we had them made and I was kinda proud of them) and she said something like “Oh, good, a clothing item. That’s gonna be very handy now that I’ve lost all my clothes). She wasn’t being sarcastic or anything. She was truly happy to have a t-shirt. It left me with my mouth open for a few seconds, not knowing what to say.

    What a disturbing thing to lose all of one’s possessions. All of a sudden not having a home, clothes, mementos of happy days… not a lot of things one can say to comfort them.

    Are you and your family safe?

    • Thanks for the sweet thoughts SSG. Yes, we’re safe, and the fires in Colorado Springs are now 50% contained, which is amazing. The California fires sound horrific too. There’s something both mesmerizing and devastating about watching a fire burn. I hope I don’t get the chance to experience that feeling anytime soon. Take care of your sweet self and thanks for stopping by!

      • pheeew.

        I know what you mean about the fires. It would be beautiful were it not for the loses, not just of human possessions but the fauna and flora of woods too

      • Luck and amazing firefighters risking their lives to help their neighbors. I am in Texas and experienced the fear of the wildfires last summer. It was so scary, but I never ceased to be in awe of all the people who risked their lives for others. I love that beautiful side of humanity. 🙂 And like you, I don’t mind a little luck whenever it is available, too! 😉 Hugs! Jo

  18. Thank you for writing what had to be a difficult post. Thank you for giving us an insider’s view of what’s happening. When California was burning a few years ago, I got some smoke and ash, but it was never really anywhere near home. Good luck to you and yours, and everyone in the literal line of fire.

    • Thank YOU for leaving such a kind comment. The fires are now 50% contained and the weather has been favorable the last couple of days, so things are looking up. That having been said, hundreds have lost their homes and thousands are still in an evacuee state, so all isn’t perfect. We aren’t in the line of fire and I’m hopeful for all who are that things will continue to get better.
      =/

  19. There’s another kind of luck that you forgot to mention. The luck that comes from having neighbors only an hour or so away who – at a moment’s notice – notify everyone in the neighborhood that supplies for the people who have lost their homes are needed. It’s the luck that comes from being in the sheer proximity of a woman who is capable of convincing people to donate food, water and transportation and able to deliver those supplies to the needy within 48 hours. It’s the luck that comes with knowing someone who puts aside her incredibly busy life juggling blogging, writing, three active children and a husband to go help people whom she’s never met and probably never will.

    Yep, Colorado’s lucky to have Gemini Girl as one of its citizens. I’m even luckier to call her my blogging bestie. I’m very proud of you, Stacie!

  20. Thank you for sharing this with us, Stacie. I am certainly heartbroken when I see it on the news. I can only imagine what you’re feeling living there. I hope you and everyone stays safe. I saw today that more of the fire was contained so I certainly hope things get better soon. How scary that must be for everyone who has to evacuate! We never see anything like that here in Maine.

    • Having come from Chicago (city girl) it’s a huge awakening. Our family is out of the path of the fire, so we’re fine, but like you, I feel for the hundreds who have lost their homes and the thousands that still can’t get back to whatever’s left. The fires are 50% contained now, so everything is going in the right direction. Thanks for stopping by and commenting…it’s always great to hear from you!

  21. WOW ive heard there has been a fire but have not been paying much attention as im many thousands of miles away…but these pics really bring it home just home mean the fire is……scary shite indeed.

  22. Good God, that’s terrible! I really feel for all the displaced people: we had a serious flood where I live a few years back and it took so long to get back in action. I hope everyone best their lives back on track soonest!

  23. I think you’re right about the different kinds of luck, Stacie. In many situations, our attitude and behavior can greatly affect what happens to us. But sometimes we’re just standing in the wrong place at the wrong time, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Too many people are blamed for their own misfortune, and that’s extremely narrow-minded and unfair. Of course, the ones who do the blaming just happen to be those who were lucky enough to be standing in the right place at the right time.

    I just read that the fires in Colorado are nearly under control. Thank you for posting these incredible pictures, and for your words, which are always well-considered and well-chosen. I’m glad you and your family are safe.

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