The Colorado Fires snuck into the most normal moments of people’s lives. I was taking pictures of my son’s 4H archery practice located about 30 minutes from our home when I saw a slurry bomber fly overhead and snapped a photo.
I found out later that plane was just returning from dumping bright orange retardant on the woods behind our home.
My daughter was home and received the evacuation phone call. She located the dog, my photo albums, and her dad’s toolbelt, when the owner of that belt walked in the door. He’d driven over to look at the fire.
He watched as a tiny plane traced circles above the flames. Then the slurry bomber dropped in line, playing follow the leader, diving lower and lower, daring the flames to lick the bottom of their engines. Suddenly, bright orange powder filled the air.
Plane after plane arrived. Drop after drop of slurry managed to extinguish the bolt of lightning that instantly flamed into a roaring fire a week ago.
Now the rain has come. We are drenched in relief and gratitude for people who perform a hero’s job as a daily task.
There was a time that I spent fire season making lists and plans. I was more prepared for disaster than joy. I looked at the people who rented storage units and filled them with treasured albums and mementos with envy. “They are so much more organized than I am,” I lamented.
Then I watched the reaction of my husband’s aunt as her house burned to the ground this spring while she was miles away, preparing to board a plane bound for France. She and her husband laughed, “Well, we wanted to downsize,” they said, “I guess this will help.”
Of course they were sad when they thought of the children’s handmade gifts, but I’ve never heard them talk about their fire as a tragedy. They’ve spoken only with gratitude about how good their insurance coverage is, how helpful people have been, and how change is good.
Our aunt has started drawing/writing in a book. Each time she thinks of a treasured item she misses, she lists it in her book. Perhaps she draws it, maybe she writes about why she misses it. She has found the memories are still very much in tact. The thing itself is not necessary to illicit the love she felt from her granddaughter’s leather tooling or her grandson’s handwriting. Feelings do not melt.
Freedom reigns as I enjoy my son. He shoots his bow and I am here with him. I am not home packing boxes to send to a storage unit so I can enjoy photos of him later. Life is the razor thin line drawn in the sky by a slurry bomber returning to the airport to refuel. My focus is equally thin. I’m learning to store up delight.
What would you put in the storage unit? Are you better at delight or disaster? Do you take pictures of random airplanes only to discover they’ve been at your house?
I love the emotion of this YouTube video. People who have encountered firefighters overflow with gratitude.