Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mixed Feelings

As I sit at my laptop in Colorado Springs, CO I feel a bit like Tevia from the “Fiddler On the Roof” when he repeatedly said, “On the one hand…and on the other hand” as he tried sorting through his mixed feelings. Because as I see before me the majestic Rocky Mountains from the front yard of the Mercy Retreat Center, I simultaneously recall all the forest fires that recently blackened major portions of the mountain’s face. The retreat center itself needed to face possible evacuation as clusters of ash the size of zucchini leaves began landing in the yard on Tuesday, June 26th. Fortunately the winds shifted and didn’t allow the flames to jump over the highway and cause the retreat buildings/homes to be counted among the many that were destroyed by the fires. It was a bit like trying to rejoice and simultaneously walk with the pain of all those affected by their flaming losses of homes and lives.

Driving up 14,110 feet to the top of Pikes Peak two weeks later left a vivid image of the scope of the fire. Yet I remember how Yellowstone forest workers chose not to replant trees after their devastating fire and simply let nature’s seedlings reshape the swatches of forest that had been fire blackened. Who knows what varied fall colors may emerge ten years after this awesome mountain’s blackened canvas face has been repainted with young foliage and fauna. It may happen that a young poet may be inspired to write yet another stanza to Katherine Lee Bates’ “America the Beautiful” written under the inspiration of her beholding the vistas seen from Pikes Peak in 1893.

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