Weed Ranch Cotton
Firewising-Up Before and After

Waiting for Wildfire

A woman wearing camo yoga pants and dark sunglasses picked up the cold pint of IPA and a stiff wind blew the napkin away.  It fell at the feet of a large woman in loud clothes. She looked at it briefly and pushed it away with a sequined tennis shoe, continuing on about how miserable she was in the heat and how this might as well be Dallas and couldn't they get a table inside. The man with her whispered something and she burst into laughter sending the rhinestones on her huge t-shirt into shimmering cascades. The woman in the sunglasses by the window mumbled something to the big dog at her feet and stared at the distant smoke plume.

Whitelodge, CO

Everyone on edge waiting on the next forest fire. Matter of time. Matter of time. The old timers and young firefighters agree. Fire is inevitable and there hasn't been one in these woods since the 1920s. We're overdue. Overdue for a big one. That's how they talk about earthquakes in California.

Ten years ago these woods were ablaze with the Missionary Ridge fire that scorched the little valley hillsides and sent fire tornadoes across Vallecito lake bed. Now there is a huge mushrooming smoke cloud looming over the high country to the north and east - the Little Sand Creek fire.  It looks big and close but is miles away.

In the loft are boxes of photos and slides to save if we have to evacuate but I've changed my mind. After rifling around in them and sneezing a few times I've decided to let them burn to save remaining family the boring horror of reading adolescent journals and sorting bad photos. I would however attempt to save my parents' adolescent journals and bad photos since the passage of time makes them less boring. There would be little enough room for everything and the cat and dog too.  Choices choices.

A woman in sequins on her hat, t-shirt, shoes and jeans says she's never been to Colorado when its been this hot. Her husband tells her she sure looks damn hot and she laughs a big careless laugh. But I'm thinking maybe all that crap on her shirt is making her warmer. And the way those tiny mirrors are reflecting the sun in my eyes in hundreds of little giggling bursts as she laughs her loud laugh is seriously harshing my mellow. I listen to her prattle on about the heat and harness an urge to blame her for something. Everything. Everything I imagine she represents. Silly but it suddenly makes me feel better -  blaming her for the Bushes, the wildfires, the drought, callous treatment of land, over-consumption, the decline of the news media. It triggers my barely-audible cursing and the dog looks up expectantly.


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