It’s been amazingly busy around here. I’m prepping a pattern for two sock designs by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts to be printed in time for Sock Summit, which is only weeks away. I finished the interior last night, and heard back with Priscilla’s approval this morning. We work really well together—it’s an absolute delight—and it’s also a relief to put in a whole bunch of work and then get word from my collaborator that I haven’t messed anything up in the process of moving it toward its final presentation!
Anyway, I need to design the cover today AND get it to press. Meanwhile, many other things have needed attention, including a friend whom I’m going to keep company this afternoon during a chemo treatment.
I’ve been wanting to post these photos since I got back from my work with Carol Ekarius, which is almost two weeks ago.
Driving to and from Carol’s, I passed through parts of the mountains that reminded me of the way Colorado looked when I was young, in the 1950s, which was a delight. Some photos at the end of the post look like the places I remember.
Mixed in with those impressions were sections that have recently been burned over by three wildfires, including the 2002 Hayman Fire, the largest in Colorado history. The Hayman incinerated more than 137,000 acres and 600 structures (including 133 homes) and destroyed large portions of some of my favorite landscapes. It was started by someone who knew better and didn’t pay attention to what she knew. Natural burns are one thing. Burns caused by human carelessness are another thing entirely.
When I see the aftermath of most burns closer to home, I am astonished at how quickly the vegetation comes back. In this case, I was stunned first by how slowly the growth is returning: after seven years, the roasted areas remain stark.
The reason, I discovered, is that the underlying granite is highly erosive and there isn’t much organic matter to support the return of grasses and other reclaiming species. Here’s some of that rock:
It’s gorgeous, but it’s also amazing that anything grows here, ever!
Second, I was stunned that I drove for a full hour and a half through charred terrain. That’s a long time, even at two-lane speeds.
I kept expecting to come to the end of it and I’d round a curve and see yet another expanse.
As usual with fires, the damage was quixotic: some trees still lived although half-burned, some trees remained fully alive even though surrounded by black skeletal trunks.
Here’s what nearby unburned areas look like:
And. . .
That’s more like what I remember from way back when (when Glenwood Canyon was one of my favorite places of the many that we traveled through).
On the drive back, I picked up a couple of other photos. One was of the early part of the hailstorm I drove through (it got deeper, but I didn’t stop to snap a picture):
I saw a guy on a bike and was thinking it wasn’t great weather for that mode of transport, and then the next view I got was of a guy out for a run, shirtless and wearing skimpy shorts. Colorado weather isn’t predictable. It’d probably looked fine when he’d left home not long before.
The following photo shows Adeline Hornbek‘s homestead, which she settled in 1878 as a single mother of four:
What an amazing place I live in. I love going out and learning more about it, even if some of what I learn about—like the lingering fire scars, and the many changes from fifty years ago—can be hard to take.
Susan J. Tweit
If you’re an elk, a bluebird, a three-toed woodpecker, a myotis bat, or any number of beetles (critical food for baby birds, among other things) or another species that likes openings, the burned forest looks better. But we people like our trees. It just looks different depending on whose eyes you’re looking through!
I thought of you as I was writing my blog post about lavender tonight. Maybe I should make you some lavender salve for your spinning fingertips….
Susan J. Tweit
Susan J. Tweit