For the past several weeks, I have been writing about the wildfires plaguing the country. My husband and I accelerated our departure from Colorado. We were under a voluntary evacuation order. On Labor Day, the temperature was 80 degrees on the mountain. Thirty-six hours later, it was 60 degrees colder and we received 6 inches of snow. The snow put a “pause button” on the Cameron Peak fire. The moisture allowed us to have a few days of wiggle room as we planned our escape.
The Cameron Peak fire now covers over 100,000 acres and ranks as one of the worst fires in Colorado history. Sadly, it is minimally contained. However, the brief respite provided by the snow has allowed the firefighters time to regroup. Current reports indicate that they are optimistic about their ability to contain it and protect neighboring communities.
I have seen Facebook posts that remind us that the true heroes among us include the incredible number of firefighters that are putting their lives on the line to keep us (and our properties) safe. Please pray for them and, if you encounter one, tell him (or her) how much you appreciate what they do. Please pray for folks on the besieged west coast as they scramble to evacuate their families and animals.
Alan and I fled the fire in Colorado and headed back to Kansas. Since our barndominium is not yet sold, we are staying there. The barn is large enough to accommodate our LQ trailer, with water, 30 amp plug, and septic drop. Interestingly enough, I didn’t have much of an emotional response about returning to Kansas. We have been extremely happy in Colorado. However, staying in my beloved barndominium has resurrected some bittersweet memories. Both Alan and I really love this place. Much of our furniture and decor is gone, so it doesn’t feel quite the same, but still… the setup is ideal for the critters and the place is so comfortable.
The dogs were ecstatic to be in familiar digs! (However, they are confused as to where all their dog beds are!) The horses happily ran around their paddock. When we turned them out into the overgrown pasture, they had to charge through tall weeds near the gate. It is hard to maintain this place from a state away…
I shopped at my old grocery store, wondering if I would see anyone I knew. It has been an emotional return to familiar territory.
Relationships are what life is all about
Alan and I have really struggled with how divided our country has become. Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, nearly everyone agrees that our country is in turmoil. Our incredible local church has made yard signs of a different flavor… Additionally, they are underwriting the cost of t-shirts, hoping to spread a more positive message. Hopefully, it will remind us all of the fact that relationships are really what is important.
That fact was powerfully driven home to us recently when we had the opportunity to have dinner with a dear, dear friend who is fighting advanced cancer. Susan is one of the most amazing people I have ever known. She has done so much for so many. She has so much more she’d like to do, but… Susan has surpassed all expectations thus far in terms of her response to treatment. However, she recently experienced a serious setback and has a CT scan scheduled to assess the spread of disease. The news is devastating…
Homes burnt by wildfires can be rebuilt. People lost to natural disasters or diseases or accidents cannot be replaced. Horses, cattle, pets, and wildlife are more devastating losses than barns and buildings and photo books. Believe me, I am not minimizing the loss of property. We are face-to-face with the very real possibility of losing our home to the Cameron Peak fire. But I’d gladly forfeit my home if it would allow me the opportunity to have Susan in my life for many more years.
Stay focused on what matters
As we enter this last quarter of what has been a horrible year, try and remember what is important. Hug your spouse or significant other, your kids, your horses and pets… and maybe your neighbor. Agree to disagree if you need to, but don’t lose relationships over politics or wildly differing opinions. Over the past few months, I have repeatedly experienced situations where my views are significantly different than those of many folks that I love, respect, and admire. I can still love and care for the person even if I struggle to understand their position on an issue.
Alan and I are about to hit the road for 6 weeks. We will depart from Kansas and visit Virginia, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, and New Mexico before arriving in Arizona. (We’ll pass through Arkansas but are not staying there!) We will encounter many people on our journey. We’ll make some new friends. Undoubtedly, we will have different viewpoints than some of those folks that we meet. But we will focus on the relationships rather than the individual’s opinion on controversial matters.
I will blog about our journey, starting with Daniel Boone Days in Culpeper, Virginia. We will be guests at Tom and Pat Seay’s Andora Ranch. Stay tuned, and remember, go hug the ones you love. Hold them close. Value and appreciate every minute you have with them. THAT is truly what matters.