Local Fires & Patio Solitude

Sitting on my patio in the early morning cool, immersed in the smell of smoke from wildfires located nearby, I am enjoying the quiet. Sad to say, the smoke from that fire and another that popped up last week have become part of the fabric of the city. This photo (below) was taken at 10 am on September 4.

Smoke filled sky from Cameron Peak wildfires, Sept 2020 Fort Collins, CO

The intensity of the smoke sometimes makes me want to seek out and wear a mask which reminds me of the other issues in our world right now. With orange-tinted skies, ash falling to the ground and the feeling of early evening when it is only 10am is not the world I want to live in. Of course, 2020 has handed me several items that were never on my agenda before.

This photo (below) was taken at 5:15 pm September 5, 2020. It looks like dusk but the smoke has obscured any light from the sun.

Smoke filled sky from Cameron Peak wildfires, Sept 2020 Fort Collins, CO

I’ve connected with my outdoor patio more this summer than any other before. Maybe because I am home more. Maybe because I want to avoid being around others. Maybe because I have an excuse to pull away and isolate. Maybe because I’ve turned it into a green sanctuary where black-capped chickadees feel welcome. Where hibiscus, spider, ivy and rubber tree plants create a green haven for them and a focal point for me.

This place is inviting, welcoming and in the mornings and late evenings, its’ my sweet spot. In the middle of the day, as temps rise to the high nineties, I stay inside. In the days before Covid-19, I’d visit the library to stay cool and stay engaged. Or maybe I’d volunteer at a local school, go see a movie or meet friends for lunch. Not so much now.

Now it’s me and my yard. Except with all the ash in the air, it’s me and my house.

This photo (below) probably explains itself. Ash-filled skies covered the landscape.

Ash on FedEx box from Cameron Peak wildfires, Sept 2020 Fort Collins, CO

Over the Labor Day weekend, I visited a friend in my old neighborhood. Every time I visit that area, I drive very slowly by my old house. This time, I got out and walked up and down the nearby green belt and looked into my yard. My rose-of-Sharon bush was healthy and happy. The tiny Christmas tree was growing taller. The lilac bush, aspen trees and perennials were all intact. As I was checking out my hard work, one of the homeowners came to the door and we chatted. I told her who I was and was delighted when she gave me a tour of my house and all the changes that were made.

I walked away with the biggest smile that my sweet little house was loved and in good hands. When I travel back to my childhood home, I do the same thing. I slowly drive by and take mental inventory of what still exists. The pump my dad put in the front yard. The rock wall loaded with rose moss and other perennial flowers. The elm tree is long gone due to a blight that wiped out all the trees on the street. The neighborhood is old, ignored and tired. It’s not the neighborhood of my youth.

Home is such an integral part of my health and wellness. Having a clean space that includes some of my identity – color, flowers, plants, smells and artifacts keeps me sane in a world where sanity is in question. Having a small patio and yard gives me a place to go, to tend, to improve and enjoy and I treasure this space in a way that never mattered before.

I am blessed. I know that beyond reason. I can list a million things that I don’t have and don’t want but I can tell you that the things that really matter can’t be purchased – a  positive attitude, friends, good health, laughter, love and a sense of purpose.

Now, let’s put these wildfires out, get some clean air and blue skies again real soon.

Smoke filled sky from Cameron Peak wildfires, Sept 2020 Fort Collins, CO

Here’s to a feeling of happiness and well-being wherever you may be!






7 thoughts on “Local Fires & Patio Solitude

  1. This is a beautiful post. I have visited my childhood home 30 years after moving from that state. I was elated that the new owner gave me a tour. I like you walked away with a big smile.

    Be safe near the fires. I hope they are put out soon.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.


  2. Catherine V-N

    I like the idea of visiting former homes. I have no childhood home because of the military, but places where I have designed a landscape or experienced great joy become monuments to that experience. Only here in Colorado have I lived long enough to be able to go back and see homes where I have lived before. Until here, I had never lived in the same home more than 5 years.
    I love the way you write.


  3. It’s funny how a home can hold so many memories even when the place has changed ten-fold. The emotions that erupt have to do with the way I decided to pick a certain color or have my sons help install the irrigation/sprinklers. The home becomes a vessel in a way, don’t you think? So appreciate your dropping by to comment.


  4. Catherine, I attended the same school for the entire K-12 years. To be on the move like you were seems so foreign to my staid life. And yet, we both ended up in this beautiful state with all the wide open skies, amazing clouds and mountain views. Now, it’s time for the smoke to dissipate so we can breathe that wonderful fresh air again. So happy to have you comment and leave your thoughts and kind words here.


  5. So awful to read of the terrible fires over your way. Sympathy from an Australian that also knows the spectre of fire and the havoc it can reek on one’s world. I am glad I came across your blog but wish that you can post about the rehabilitation of your area sooner rather than later.


  6. Thanks for your comments. As you know, fire really takes its toll on the environment, community, economy and psyche. Today is another wicked air quality day (187%) at 8 am. I am located about 50 miles from the fire but is smells as if it were one street over from me. The fire is contained at 57% but we have high winds in the forecast so who really knows. Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. This has been an incredible year, hasn’t it?


  7. Hi Margie, Just checking in. It looks like you’ve been writing off and on like me these last few months. This was an interesting blast from the past about the wildfires. My Mom lives in Oregon and had to be evacuated from her home as fires came close to her neighborhood. Thank goodness that’s over with. Hope all’s well with you.


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