Tuesday, May 20, 2014

From Sylvia's House, Waldo Canyon Almost 2 Years Later...

Everything around their house was torched by the Waldo Canyon fire. The 346 homes which were burned to ash, many in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood, were around her. The 2 people who perished in the blaze, were in the house down the hill. Sylvia and her husband's house was not touched. A couple of pieces of outdoor furniture were scorched, a couple of windows blew out, but miracle of miracles, their house stood. Jimmy and I spent the afternoon w/ Sylvia yesterday. Now, it is close to 2 years after the fires. Here is a reminder of the day the fire exploded over the mountain into the Mountain Shadows neighborhood:

'On June 26, 2012, Colorado Springs experienced a record high temperature of 101 °F (38 °C), which aided the fire's rapid expansion. By 3:45 p.m. strong winds following a dry thunderstorm west of the blaze caused the fire to jump the containment line on Rampart Range Road and enter into Queen's Canyon. At 4:21 p.m., smoke billowed in the distance and Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach interrupted a news conference with an evacuation order. The fire crested Queen's Canyon and winds from the west nearing 65 mph gusts (the cyclonic winds of the collapsing pyrocumulus cloud from the fire storm) pushed the fire down the slope and into the Mountain Shadows, Oak Valley Ranch, and Peregrine neighborhoods. By late afternoon and evening, multiple structures were burned including the Flying W Ranch, a Colorado Springs landmark built in 1953. Within the time span of twelve hours, 346 homes in western Colorado Springs had burned to the ground, and hundreds more were reported as damaged by fire and smoke.'

We literally saw the fire jump over the range that day, and by evening, neighbors had gathered @ the end of our street, w/ a powerful telescope and we watched homes burn. It was horrifying. By the time the fire was contained, over 18,000 acres or 29 square miles had burned. As far as the eye could see. Now, almost 2 years later, we stood on Sylvia's deck and looked @ our house, which is 27 minutes away. If you remember, we had a birds eye view, although at the time, I did not understand the terrain or the distance. The fire was so enormous, it felt like it was as close as the Black Forest fire actually was. The amazing thing, the wonderful thing, is that nature comes back. Yes, the reminder is looking @ the charred mountain, daily, and worth repeating, as far as the eye can see. For those who live in the neighborhoods, many of whom have re-built, clearly, it is much more personal. It is the trees and bushes which still stand blackened, charred. They will never come back. But, the mountain is green now, in parts, and trees are being re-planted. Even yesterday, Sylvia was having dead trees pulled out, and 7 new trees planted.

We ache for the families near San Diego. We understand all too well the fear and the loss. Those feelings, I do not think will ever go away. But, looking @ the hillside near Sylvia's house, I am filled w/ enormous hope and awe. The resilience of the human spirit to re-build and nature saying, I'll be back, just watch....here is the proof of the pudding!
Looking West to a small, yet huge portion of the burn scar, with new trees just planted yesterday!
Looking South
Down the hill a closer view
Such a contrast of the charred remains and the life bursting forth from the Earth!
An amazing and beautiful landscape!

 'There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

   a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
   a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build, 

   a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them..'
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-5

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