When we left for Colorado on June 22, the closest wildfire to our rental house was about 40 miles away. Four days into our vacation, two more started: one in Estes Park 25 miles NNW and one in Boulder 10 miles SE.
High Park Fire in Fort Collins; We were in downtown Boulder when lightning started the Flagstaff Fire.
Owen set up a firewood drum kit and held a concert for us one evening. You can see the Flagstaff Fire (and a thunderstorm) in the background. We even dubbed his band Owen and the Wildfires. Dark-slash-inappropriate humor is a family specialty.
So, yeah, the fires cast a figurative and literal haze over our vacation. We watched the news obsessively and fled to the windows with binoculars every time there was a close lightning strike. Growing up on the gulf coast taught me how to handle hurricanes, and living in Birmingham has helped me develop my tornado M.O., but I have no idea how to be smart about a wildfire. I now have a much greater respect and empathy for those who do.
Our rental house itself survived a wildfire in 2003, and most of the ridge we were on still looked more like a moonscape than a forest. I found a lot of beauty, though, in what the fires left behind. When we looked to the horizon, we saw ongoing destruction, but we could also look right outside our window and see rebirth. Cacti growing in burned out stumps. Tiny but dense groves of birch trees fighting together to come back. Birds, field mice, rabbits and (of course!) chipmunks moving in to repopulate. Maybe I'm just stretching for an obvious truth here, but I did feel hope.