November 8th, 2010
Two Months and a Day After The Fire
It’s supposed to snow here tonight, and I am restless with anticipation. Snow; when will it arrive? I’ve been waiting all day, checking the sky, looking up at the gathering clouds, smelling the wind. Snow. Could it be true? Finally?
My friends here in Boulder have been loving the hot fall weather – it’s been seventy, eighty degrees some days. The sky has been a burning, glorious blue without a cloud, and the days have been hot and sunny. In the evenings we’ve been sitting out on the screen porches here in Chautauqua, and I haven’t had to turn the heat on yet. And it is November.
My friends say, “Isn’t this weather glorious? Don’t you wish it would stay like this forever?” “No,” I say, “I hate this weather.” And I do not use the H-word lightly. This heat and sun and unseasonably dry fall have made me feel edgy and irritable and like I was about to lose my mind. All the Fire People I’ve talked to have felt the same way. “When we get a foot of snow,” they say, “then we can relax.” People in town don’t realize that although it’s early November, it’s still Fire Season.
Fire Season. We think of it as starting in July in the mountains, and going through September, when we usually get our first Real Snow. That day usually starts out sunny, and then in the afternoon it gets cold all of a sudden, and the sun ducks behind a bank of clouds and then – the first white flakes begin to swirl off the Divide and you can see it, smell it coming – The First Snow. We’re like a bunch of children up there, when it first snows. We run around the meadows and laugh and let the snow fall all over our faces. It is the end of Fire Season, the beginning of Fall, and a time when we can relax.
Today it was sixty-five degrees, and my neighbors were all out in the Park, enjoying the weather. They were lamenting the end of the warm days, and saying sadly, “Tonight the weather is supposed to turn.” I love that image, of the weather “turning.” It makes me think of the Earth, slowly tilting from Summer to Fall, and then one day just doing a little turn, a little pirouette, and wham! The season has changed. The weather has turned.
Snow; it’s supposed to snow tonight. The very thought of it makes me giddy. Big, wet flakes falling from the sky, covering the ash, the rubble, the charred earth. White snow falling on black ash, purifying the burnt and brittle death that covers the mountainsides. Snow like a white funeral robe; snow like a blanket of peace. Snow. If it snows enough, and the weather really turns, all of us Fire People can relax. We can take a breath, and stop thinking about red skies and helicopters and winds whipping a small wildfire into a devastating firestorm. We can start to think about Fall, and Winter, and Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and the end of Fire Season. At last.
When it snows, I think to myself, that means the Fire really has gone out. What a relief.
Wishing You a Good Night, and a Happy Fall,
The Next Day…
Chautauqua, November 9th, 2010 – 10 a.m.
Chautauqua, November 9th, 2010 – 5 p.m.
The First Snow of the Year – Finally.