Friday, August 31, 2012

Fire aftermath

The High Park Fire is done but its aftereffects will linger for years. We were fortunate; we lost a large number of trees on our property but the structures were not damaged. Sadly, 259 homes were lost, mostly in Rist Canyon and in Glacier View to the north. The people we've met who lost their homes, including the woman who was the selling realtor on this house, have amazing, positive attitudes towards the destruction, treating it as an opportunity to rebuild even better homes. Of course, we're seeing a biased sample. The people who lost so much that they never want to see this place again--well, they've already left and we'll never meet them. My heart goes out to them.
This week has been filled with aerial reseeding and mulching of slopes in the canyon. With the vegetation gone in so many places, erosion and flash flooding are a huge problem. Access to steep, densely forested areas is difficult so the work is done by helicopter. The same was true for the firefighting effort itself, only now they're spreading seed and straw rather than water. The helicopter landing zone (the "LZ," as my volunteer firefighter-in-training husband tells me it's called) is right across the road from us so we're getting a lot of chopper noise. They leave with a full bag of materials, fly west, and return with the bag dangling empty.
One particular bit of damage I was sad about was the huge mountain mahogany shrub (Cercocarpus montanus) next to the propane tank. The fire reached the tank and scorched it (eek!!) and destroyed the shrub. I saw this morning, however, that it is still alive. Mountain mahogany seems to have an amazing ability to regenerate from its roots; what a good little fire-adapted shrub!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Welcome to Colorado!

Six months ago, I was a city girl living in Chicago with Too Much Coffee Husband, Foley the neurotic greyhound, and Lucy the always-hungry beagle. I rode the L to campus every day, could get coffee or Thai or Moroccan food within two blocks of home, mouthed off at drivers who tried to run me over in the crosswalk, and ran errands on foot in the Loop. I was also frantically writing my dissertation, chained to the desk in our back bedroom from 8 a.m. until sometimes after midnight (and, to be honest, sometimes much much earlier than that). TMCH and I had other things to do with our lives, but first I needed to finish the beast.

On Friday the 13th of April, I successfully defended. A month later, I had presented it in public, finished revisions, and been approved by the Graduate College. After 7 1/2 years, I was finally DONE.

Then a crazy whirlwind of activity took place, a house was purchased, another was sold, movers were hired, and boom! Rustic log home, 30 acres of Ponderosa pine forest and sunny meadows, and a 17 minute drive to the nearest restaurant. Whoa, what just happened?

I will have lots to share over the coming months and years. Adjusting to country living, learning how to garden at high altitude, and exploring the beautiful lands of Northern Colorado should give me plenty to write about. Stay tuned as I spend lots of money on plants that are all eaten by deer! Be amused as I utterly fail at building a fire in the fireplace! Marvel at the strange meals we concoct because the grocery store is so far away! Share in Lucy's joy at discovering wild turkeys!

This is going to be fun. :)