My heart goes out to the people in Boulder, Colorado this morning. For the last four days they have been battling the worst fire in Colorado history. Not only have they had to live with the constant uncertainty of a live, moving fire, with wind gusts up to 45 mph, the pristine mountain air has been replaced with falling ash and the thick smell of smoke. Residents are experiencing respiratory problems many miles away.
According to AOL News a hour ago, “The Fourmile Canyon fire has burned 170 homes in the scenic foothills of the Rockies since Labor Day, spreading over about 6,400 acres, or more than 10 square miles. It is only 30 percent contained, fire command spokeswoman Mary Dobbs told USA Today. And it’s still spreading.”
It was just fourteen months ago that my husband and I moved from Boulder to our home in Montana. The real estate market was so depressed at the time of our move, that we kept our home in Boulder and rented it to some wonderful tenants. That home, in the majestic foothills of Boulder, is just a little more than a mile from the fire and has been under mandatory evacuation since Monday.
Boulder has such a special place in our hearts, as that’s where my husband and I both lived when we first met. It’s been stressful reading the tweets and fire reports, feeling helpless and having friends lose their homes. We’ve watched the fire line on Google maps and checked weather reports to see how strong the winds are blowing, and in what direction. Each morning we wake up and check to see if the house is still there.
I can’t help but wonder, if we still lived in that home and we were the ones to experience a mandatory evacuation (rather than our tenants), what “things” would we take with us? If you only had an hour or two to pack your car, what would you take? What “stuff” is important to you?
As I write this I caught myself looking around my home in Montana saying, “Oh, I’d take that painting, and those photo albums, oh, and I can’t forget that….” But it’s only stuff.
When we really think about it, we could live with so much less. We have become so dependent upon our creature comforts, but it’s the people that matter. What a fire or any other kind of physical or economic disaster can’t take away, are the memories we create in our lifetime, the love we share and the friendship and connections we cherish.
Many people globally have gone through a personal financial cleansing “fire” of sorts over the last year or so where many personal possessions have been lost. It’s a time of change and re-prioritization where each day we have a new opportunity to remember what truly matters. The one thing that is constant is- It’s never about the “stuff”.
In the midst of such fear and adversity from this raging fire, I’ve heard such heart-warming stories of neighborhoods coming together, individual bravery to protect others, random acts of kindness and people reaching out to strangers with love. These are the things that matter.
For us personally, whether our Boulder home is spared by this fire or not, life will go on. We will continue to be grateful for the many blessings in our life – our family, friends, experiences, relationships and love.
To the people of Boulder, know that you are in our thoughts and in our prayers. May you find peace during this stressful time. May the soft rains of autumn fall on you today and protect you, your family, your pets, your homes and the life in our beautiful Colorado mountains.