Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sparing the Canyon

by Maggie Sefton



Ever since returning from my longer-than-usual trip back home to Northern VA/Washington, DC and then trip to Bouchercon mystery convention in Cleveland, I've been trying to catch up with friends and activities here in Fort Collins, Colorado.  I'd missed a lot, like watching the trees turn from green to yellow or burgundy red mixed with green or flame orange.  I love seeing these seasonal changes and I was surprised to return on October 1st and find almost all of the trees had already changed color.  The maples in my front and back yard were bright yellow or yellow orange.  My "volunteer" tree (meaning a squirrel must have forgotten a nut he planted) had already turned brilliant red.  So, I've enjoyed the color display while driving around town on errands.

There was also something else I wanted to do.  Last week, I finally drove into Cache La Poudre Canyon on the northwestern edge of Fort Collins.  It was the first time I'd gone into the canyon since this summer's wildfires.  I had friends who'd been evacuated in the middle of the night from their beautiful canyon homes and were living in town with friends, wondering if their homes survived.  We all read the riveting newspaper accounts of the brave men and women, who were volunteer firefighters, and how a small crew of only six of them had held off the fire that spread over the ridge from Rist Canyon and came into Cache La Poudre Canyon one night.  They literally put themselves in between those flames and their neighbors' homes---over and over again.  Their heroic efforts saved practically all of the homes that were in the fire's path that night.

I was anxious to go into the canyon and fearful what I might see.  Would the gorgeous canyon be burned badly?  What would it look like?  Wildfires hop and skip, burning one patch and leaving the rest untouched.  I'd already heard from others who had driven up while I was out of town that there were only a handful of spots that showed fire noticeable fire damage.  And even those areas had new growth already starting.

So, I was hopeful and I drove up, the Cache La Poudre River running fast alongside the road, welcoming me back into one of my favorite spots---as well as my mystery sleuth, Kelly Flynn.  :)  And to my immense relief----I saw that my friends were right.  The canyon looks the same---save for a handful of places where you saw charred trees on a ridge top or burned and blackened ground on the side of the road.  Everything else looked exactly the same.  The beautiful Cache La Poudre Canyon was just as beautiful as I remembered and treasured in my heart.  I cannot tell all of you how happy that makes me.

Do you have a favoritie Nature spot or Natural area that nourishes you that you treasure visiting?  Where is it?