Both my boys were at least thought up in the high country of Arizona. One opened his eyes to the wide world for the first time, and the other grew ears and fingernails and little legs inside me before we had to head east. I have many memories, some of the very best, on that Colorado Plateau, just above all those spiritual vortexes and red rocks and 10,000 foot peaks. It is a place with kind, gentle souls, compassiate minds, and so very lucky for me: friends.
My little Rhode Island self had not seen things so large until I headed west. The big skies, yes, but it turned out to be everything else too. The circumference of trees, the distance between cities, the size of deer, the length of a cliff, the blaze of a fire…
I was there when the outskirts of Flagstaff burned and it was scary, and it was surreal, and it was long. But, it was new to me, and not to the people who have resided there for their entire life. The real devastation of a fire felt distant to me even as I watched the mountains line with licking flames each night when the sun went down, and saw the plumes of smoke rise above the little mountain city. Even when my husband joined the forces to fight these deadly fires, it just didn’t seem possible that any real danger could (or would) occur. It’s just so large it’s hard wrap your mind around.
Now I stand surrounded by a different beast all together. The forest is thick and dark in Vermont. In broad daylight, when stepping into the wet mossy woods you have to make time to allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness. Brush, though thick on the ground, is left composting in a damp mushroom infested cushion. Just a quick walk through this forest will leave your shoulders and spine soaked to the skin from nudging a branch which will just as soon rain down on you as it would on the mulch below.
It is a different beast yes. Much different than the towering stands of ponderosa and the ever applauding aspens where I fell in love- in love with my husband and birds and my son and trees and wildflowers and mountains.
I am forever grateful to the men and women who decide to make their lifes work to protect that land of endless sky. Their courage is unfathomable. Their strength and dedication is quite the same. I have no words for the loss of life in Arizona. I am so sorry that it happened and that for any amount of time those 19 people were at all afraid. Keep them in your thoughts, and all those fighting the blaze still this fire season.