Avery’s Morning…And the Colorado Wildfires

Avery landed on earth mid-March. Parachuted in by a special team of stork/angels. The infant’s condition required a guardian angel as well. It took some fine medical assistance, and the protective cherub.

It would also require an infant’s heart telling her to hold on – to wait for help.

The cord that had twice wrapped around Avery’s neck was released. Breath returned. Avery’s color went from bluish-purple to bright baby pink. The birth canal ride had been rough, but Avery survived with only a mark above her left eye that soon faded.

Avery, my great-niece, is now in her fourth month. She’s unaware of the wildfires within her home state.

In the last few days, updates have continued charting the many devastating fires of Colorado. Tens of thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes – vacate their special corners of the world.

Neighbors helping neighbors have tried to move one another’s livestock to safety. Small pets and belongs have been packed into vehicles. And a reverse call arrived, telling them it was time. Residents moved out, saying goodbye to the areas that would never be the same again in their lifetimes.

Maybe they glanced back to see ground squirrels scampering away, and a few birds with wings beating as they forged through the smoky airways. The hummingbird feeders, so lovingly filled, remained behind.

With a fire’s mass evacuation, there are often perilous escapes through blinding conditions. Gridlocked drivers searched out new shelter.

Walls of flame that climbed ridge after ridge will be reduced to embers and ash. Ferocious winds will rest. The horizon’s darkness will unclog, and blue will one day resume.

What can be saved, will be saved by heroic firefighters. The fire crew’s harrowing efforts to save homes, to rescue life, and to smother fires, are sagas of dedicated courage. I applaud them. And may they be blessed. There would be far more destruction without them.

Residents will mop-up. And many will rebuild. Their pain and fear will not be easily washed aside. Yet most will continue on as our forefathers have. Taming the lands, for we’re a tough breed.

The many who will return to see burnt out, scorched, and smoldering patches of land will remember. Their eyes once filled with wonder. For I believe there is a part of us that can actually fall in love with place. It is not only where we live – but where our spirits claim and are claimed.

Many of the most wondrous places of Colorado are now scarred. Our nation, and indeed our world, mourns the loss of this grandeur. They have visited us.

Yesterday Avery’s Mom sent me a video of Avery. She entitled it Avery’s Morning. It showed a brief clip of baby Avery saying good morning with smiles and infant eye-beams twinkling. Her mouth contorted into babbling and cooing translatable baby-talk. She issued her own optimism of the day.

Undoubtedly, she’ll one day be told of Colorado’s summer of sorrow. Her first summer. Stories about when fires lifted, and rampaged through entire communities. Where an exodus included thousands.

Perhaps as years pass, she will visit mountainsides with partial growth reaching toward an azure sky. And her cooing will have converted to words. Words of amazement. This land is returning to Colorado’s unique splendor.

Just as Avery’s beginning was a struggle to live, our lovely lands will brawl their way back to beauty.

I’m partial to smiles. Our Colorado smiles will also return.

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Slow News Day – So I’ll revert to my memories…

Although my area of the world certainly has news – Colorado’s wild fires – that’s been ongoing for weeks. It’s painful, nearly to tears, to witness so much of our loveliness transforming into charred ruins.

To know that my fellow Coloradans have lost their homes saddens me beyond words. Creatures of the forests have been lost, and others retreating, outrun the fires – yet are thrown into their strange new worlds.

As each dot on the map erupts in flames, I recall times spent in that place of wilderness. We have a major fire outside of Estes Park. And I am familiar with the area.

Memories directed the flashback to Grand Lake. Years ago I’d taken my nephews, Robbie and Dusty, horseback riding around the lake. At the time the boys were about ten and seven.

From the stables, I’d requested gentle horses. With safety in mind, I’d asked to please give us the tamest of nags ever known to small cow-pokes. Especially for the little fella, Dusty.

The day was lovely, clear with an invisibility of fresh mountain air. The ride through the wilderness allowed a kinship with nature. The hooves of the horses were trotting over the footpaths of all that had gone before.

Along the metrics of civilization, were grottoes of sojourners, pioneers, and our ancestral bloodline. The pristine ride on horseback allowed our spirits to rendezvous with perpetuity.

For me the remembrances were congruent with an inspiration. I have always felt the Rockies are the vertebrae of the most wonderful, blessed country on earth.

And while the mountain peaks dwarf the slight package of flesh that we are, there is an invincibility also. And the groves of lush forest around the lake’s edge became our spiritual protection.

The horseback ride went great. Until passing back through the small community on our return to the livery stables. An ear-splitting, nerve-jarring sound blared from a power tool.

Dusty’s horse bucked, nearly throwing him, then galloped back to the stable. I rushed after my small nephew, my heart pounding with prayers. When I lifted him down, he was shaking. Safe, but terrified.

And so, a day that was to allow the seepage of history and reverence for our path, became a terrifying epochal moment of fear we all remember.

Dusty and his beautiful wife are now raising their own trio of strong, wonderful boys.

Dusty has never again rode a horse, and I can’t say I blame him. Nor that he requires additional steeplechase training. He keeps his feet on the ground. A lesson of great wisdom. The horse ride told me he wants no part of bucking, charging horses.

It also told me he knows how to handle emergency adversity with grace and a champion’s heart.

Right now, our nation struggles with wild fires, drought, and a multitude of other adversity. And a gigantic thanks to all those good thoughts, prayers, and rain dances from throughout the world.

The human spirit never fails to hold on tightly to the reins – just like Dusty.

Maybe slow news days are their own beautiful lesson requiring my gratitude.