Red Flag Warning

“We could sure use the rain.”  I am a farm girl and I heard this many times growing up. Colorado is in a drought now; I hear this wish for rain almost everyday. Even the snowpack has been low for years. Personally I wish for a sprinkler system so dragging the hoses out to water will be but a distant memory. Who needs green grass?  The dryness has its own rating system: red flag warning, conditions are ideal for fire combustion.  Just recently an entire forest, the San Juan National Forest was closed to the public. No hiking, camping, fishing- don’t even think about it. That is high fire danger on steroids. People in Fort Collins talk about “The Fire”, the High Park Fire in 2012.  Hundreds of acres of forest and many homes were burned by a fire that was fed by the tinder of a dry forest. I watched the flames jump from tree to tree from the “safety” of  a position on the opposite side of a large reservoir. World wide, famine caused by drought has cost the lives of millions of people. 

The scorched brown fields, forests, prairies, brush and lawns are all thirsty for water.  Can’t even spit. A lightning strike, a campfire not extinguished and FIRE. It feels like the dirt is brittle, ready to  crumble to powder. Human beings are about 60%water, we can get dehydrated like the fields and lawns. When it’s so hot, 100 degrees by Thursday, I have to force myself to keep chugging water. I remember this story and parable: In hell the dipper for water has a handle so long that poor souls can’t get the water to their own mouths, but they can bring the dipper to other’s mouths and give each other water. Such a visual for me, and even in hell cooperation is the key. I hate to see people spraying off their driveways when water is so precious, use a broom. Think of the poor people in hell!

Dried fruit is yummy, but dehydrated humans can be in a world of hurt. Headaches, dry skin, shallow breath, orange pee, sleepiness, no tears or saliva and heart palpitations are all symptoms of dehydration. I think of all the tears I have cried in my lifetime, a river of tears, and I wonder how I ever refilled my tear reservoir.  When Roger died there were many times when I was sure I couldn’t cry anymore, but I was wrong. How odd that grief feels dry and brittle, but on the outside it’s all wet with tears.

In the West, here in Colorado, most of the time we have dry heat and water evaporates in a short time. Winds dry the earth quickly and also fan the forest fire. The wind whips the fire into a frenzy and drives it across the landscape. This morning I was angry and I stoked that anger by thinking about my resentments. My anger moved into areas not really connected to my original source of anger. I tend to cry when I am angry, but I think sometimes my tears put out the fire of anger too quickly. Anger scares me, it burns,  so I throw the water of my tears on it. I don’t want an angry forest fire, but sitting around the campfire may be just what I need. Of course,I will remember Smoky Bear and put out my campfire when I leave.

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