Fire and Rain

 “I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain….”, on this James Taylor and I agree. I’ve seen forest fires and floods here in Colorado, and specifically in my little slice of heaven here in northern Colorado. The 1997 flood and the Hyde Park fire are as much fire and rain as I ever want to see.  Fire and rain seemed kind of opposites, but generated many similar feelings in me. Helplessness, excitement,fear and awe. When I was a little girl I would sit on our front porch with my brothers and sisters and watch thunderstorms come in. The clouds would begin to pile up in the southwest , turn darker and grow to cover a lot of the sky. I felt some fear, but I also felt some excitement and anticipation. What was this storm going to bring? Thunder, lightning, rain, hail, wind, or just blow over our farm with a whimper…. It wasn’t that I felt fear OR anticipation, it was that I felt fear And anticipation. Both were true. There was something luring me to my spot on the porch to wait for the storm to show itself. 

I’ve just passed my 70th birthday and  I am feeling fear, anticipation, excitement and a big dose of curiosity for what lies ahead.The smoke and the ashes from the Hyde Park fire were difficult to deal with, but that didn’t stop me from being very curious about the fire. My husband and I hiked up to vantage point where we could see the fire jump from tree to tree across the reservoir.  I was safe but I wanted to see the fire. It scared me, but also intrigued me. I’m a very curious person and I have to stick around to see how this one life I have been given turns out, but I won’t be sitting on the porch being a passive spectator. Of course, I have to respond and play an active role in my own life.  Oddly,  what gives me a lot of peace now is that I allow myself to hold feelings that may seem to be at odds with each other. I am comforted by accepting that life is complicated, feelings are complicated and I will never figure everything out. 

During the 1997 flood, I was powerless to stop the rain being poured out like buckets over my windsheild. I was scared and disoriented. Where the hell was I? Water was pouring across the road in several places.The police stopped me  and told me to turn around and try another way. I was stopped again a couple blocks from home due to high, rushing water  across the road. Good samaritans opened their home to stranded drivers like me and we waited for the water to recede.  We finally got the signal it was safe to go, and I got home  with a tale to tell and relief that my family and I were safe. Sometimes waiting is the smartest decision to make.  It is dangerous to drive through flood waters and dangerous to keep on a life path when the road ahead may be washed out. I also learned asking for and accepting help is critical to my well-being. Most people want to help and have good intentions. I still struggle with expecting the good in people.

During and after the flood and fire I frequently heard the sound of helicopters passing overhead, rescuing, surveying damage and carrying water to the fire.  The sound from the chopper blades became comforting and made me feel both sad and proud. Helicopters are often used for rescue, so help was on the way. Natural disasters are random and powerful, but we don’t need to be paralyzed in dealing with them. I have choices in life and small steps are better than standing still. Bravery is always an option.

No matter what I do. The sun will come out again and the fire will go out.