It’s Thursday night, 10:00 PM, as I write this, and it’s the kind of beautiful, blustery night that makes me want to stand face to the wind, arms outstretched, and let it blow through me. It’s the kind of night that’s fierce and wild and wonderful, gusting cool air through the halls and blowing papers free of the refrigerator and bulletin boards.
Earlier today, the Four Mile Canyon fire had been reported 30% contained and some of the homes reopened to their owners—but threats of incoming windy weather (this weather that’s currently rattling trees outside my window) prompted officials to reinstate the evacuation order. Firefighters entered the night worried that the gusting wind and dry air might fan the fire into a monster again and carry it past their line.
Late this afternoon, the city issued an announcement that people living on the west side of town should prepare for possible evacuation. Friends living on the mountain’s borders, even those who know it’s incredibly unlikely the fire would reach them, are gathering photos and keepsakes. Just in case. And when we drove back into town after an evening north of town, the smell of smoke once again filled the car.
These were the thoughts in my head as I pulled into my driveway tonight: that the fire might spread; that it’s touching so many people; that the night was this weird mix of beauty and power and fear. And in the midst of this, loud music comes from the bike path behind the house, where a stream of bicycles are passing with music and wheels decorated with Christmas lights and laughter—Boulder’s Thursday night bike ride. The kids come running to shout “Happy Thursday!” to them, because that’s what we do on Thursday when the ride passes our house, and the bikers all yell “Happy Thursday!” back to us, one after another, as they pass in a parade of color and light.
And I guess that’s what keeps hitting me in the midst of this: tragedy brings out stories of heroism and compassion and a community coming together. Qwest, our local phone company with a reputation for poor service, sets up a generator-powered phone relay so that the mountain schools will have phone service as they reopen. A local woman buys piles of socks because she hears that one of the relief centers is in short supply. Others open their homes to evacuees and to their pets; or simply offer their garages to people looking for a place to store things until the fire danger passes. The Thursday bikers spread good cheer and grins.
Maybe it doesn’t put out the fire, but it helps.
PS: If you’re interested in helping those who have lost their homes, a donation site opened tonight in Boulder to collect gently used children’s clothing, size large adult clothing, personal hygiene items (unused), diapers and school supplies.
For those of you who live farther afield, Boulder’s Daily Camera has compiled a list of resources for how to help.