Well, yesterday was “B” day in the blogging from A to Z challenge. I’m writing a bit erratically, enjoying my new found retirement and giving myself permission to be less reliable than usual.
Today, I’m writing about burned. Particularly, the Marshall Fire, which roared through my area just over 3 months ago, on December 30, 2021. I’ve written about it twice before, and those posts are available here and here should you be interested. Once the snow melted out, it became obvious that ground and trees were burned about a block away. Two blocks out, homes were destroyed. The fire, propelled by hurricane force winds came entirely too close. And as bad as it was, destroying more than a thousand homes and damaging many more, it could have been worse. The whole town could have burned. Had this happened in the middle of the night, the numbers of killed and injured (2 deaths, a few minor injuries) would likely have been much higher.
I’m somewhat used to the altered landscape now. I often walk past certain burned areas, seeing scorched trees, the remains of houses and neighborhoods. Some areas are without access, others I see. It’s very different. There’s a poignancy to some of the scenes. Holiday lights and decorations hanging in the yard of a charred house. In one yard a smoky buddha sits placidly beneath a scorched tree. As spring is starting, the early bulbs bloom among the ash. And the burned areas of open space are greening up, more green and earlier than usual. The natural worlds drive towards renewal is showing.
It’s challenging for the people. I’m among the fortunate, with no major damage, no restoration/smoke mitigation required. Many who still have homes are contending with these challenges, and insurances companies and vendors, some of whom are showing up very well, and others who seem to be taking advantage of the crisis and “easy money”. And for those who have lost their homes, the challenges are an order of magnitude or two greater, and the length of the process much longer.
Just last weekend, we all were acutely reminded of Marshall Fires impact on our lives when another wildfire happened nearby, a little north and west of where the Marshall Fire started, it was called the NCAR fire. Many homes in southwest Boulder evacuated, but with the good fortune of much lighter winds and blowing away from town, as well as well-prepared lands and firefighters, no structures were lost, no injuries sustained and the fire is now largely out. Everyone could return to their homes within a day. But those of us affected by the Marshall Fire were pretty shaken, with dread, trauma reactions, anger, fear and disbelief, we all have some reactions. It may not be PTSD, I don’t think its a disorder, but it certainly is a trauma reaction. The wounds are still deep and easily reactivated.
Rebuilding is beginning, debris is being cleared, and it will be a while before we are settled again.