Last year I didn’t feel nervous. I hiked, went on vacation, sat on my deck, and enjoyed myself. It felt like a carefree, Rocky mountain kind of summer.
This year it’s anything but.
And it’s not just the pandemic.
It’s one of those summers because of the fire danger. It’s tinder dry out there, smoke is everywhere. It’s hard to feel comfortable.
I guess the only thing that’s good about feeling like a fire may broke out at any moment is it takes my mind off the pandemic.
It actually almost feels normal, because I’ve been through this before.
Back in 2012, I was on edge the entire summer. We didn’t get a single drop of precipitation during the month of March, and the march of dry and hot weather continued right up to July.
It was the year of historic wildfires in Colorado, High Park, Waldo Canyon. Smoke filled the air, and I worried that any moment a fire would break out.
I carried fire boxes filled with my personal mementos in my car for months, worried I wouldn’t make it home in time to grab them.
So, no this feeling of anxiety and worry is not new to me.
It’s part of the bargain we mountain residents make when we choose to live here.
We get to enjoy views of snow-capped peaks, glimpses of moose and elk, snowy winters right out of a postcard.
But with that seeming life of bliss, comes the ever-growing dangers of wildfire.
So here we are, caught in a pattern of hot and dry days, where just a spark can set off an uncontrolled wildfire. In fact, it appears that the Grizzly Creek Fire near Glenwood probably was started by sparks from the highway.
If there’s any comfort right now, it’s that we are working from home. In 2012, I worked as a Park Ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park. With over an hour’s drive each way, I knew there was a very good chance I wouldn’t make it home in time to grab my pets or mementos.
All of this is part of why I work for a program that educates people about wildfire mitigation.
While we can’t change the weather, we can work to make our home and communities safer against the threat of wildfires. When we were evacuated for the Cold Springs Fire, the one comfort I found was realizing we had done an amazing amount of mitigation work. That we’d given our home a fighting chance to survive.
In the meantime, we wait. We wait for the weather to change, for temperatures to cool off, and rain to fall.
Even during the hottest and driest of summers, sooner or later Mother Nature provides a reprieve.