Trees marked as hazard trees in the fire burn area

A few days ago I wrote of how the natural world adjusts to the changing weather and prepares itself for winter.  But with the change of seasons, the residents of this mountain town engage in their own personal autumn rites to prepare for the impending snow and wind.

I was reminded of this as the winds howled today.  My first immediate thought?  Oops — I hadn’t moved the patio furniture off the deck yet.  As I drove up Boulder Canyon towards our Nederland home, I wondered what possible debacle might await me – courtesy of the strong winds whipping down canyon.

Memories of our first winter came flooding back.  We were newbies to the Nederland area, and not fully aware of the havoc the winds could wreak.  I remember arriving home one day, only to find the barbecue grill upside down in the middle of our driveway.  That was not only the end of the barbecue grill, but also the beginning of using come-along straps to ratchet down the grill in winter.

Then there was the day that the plastic Adirondack chairs got tossed into the side yard, cracking into bits and pieces.  They too ended up at the local dump, replaced by much heavier and sturdier composite chairs.

But despite our wisdom in purchasing heavier, sturdier furniture — we have come to realize at a certain point in the fall, it’s smarter to just remove anything that isn’t anchored down.  So right about this time in October, we start systematically moving these potential projectiles down below to our crawl space.

Fall is also the time of year to build up the supply of firewood that you might need during the winter — 2-3 cords should do nicely.  Fortunately, on a couple of acres of land, you can usually find plenty of dead and down wood.  Even if you can’t, the Forest Service sells fuel wood permits to collect on Forest Service land, providing plenty of rounds to be hauled, chopped and stacked.

As I drove Ridge Road the other day, I was reminded of a new preparation for winter courtesy of the Cold Springs Wildfire.  All through the burn scar, the Forest Service workers were marking charred, dead trees along the road with blue spray paint.  It didn’t take long to put two and two together and realize they were marking hazard trees to be cut down.  Dead snags along the road are ripe for the winds to rip down and toss into the middle of the road, potentially endangering motorists driving to and from work.

Whatever the preparations, one thing’s for sure, it will involve lots of manual labor.  Life in the mountains has taught me one thing — I don’t need a gym to go to get my work out!