Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Escape Route, Part Deux

Taken after an April snowstorm

I am still consumed by the wildfire that started in Four Mile Canyon outside Boulder.  The Sheriff's office has released a partial list of homes destroyed (only 5-10% of the burn area) and, thus far, our (old) home is not on it.  

Because I can't stop thinking about this, and googling to see if there is any more information, I thought I'd share some memories of the early years of our marriage living at 154 Escape Route.

It's hard to explain what made it so special.  In part it was because Mr. Wonderful and I were newly married, living in our first home, and "playing house".  We didn't have children, and so were able to just focus on ourselves.  Neither of us is the "neighborhood" type, so we loved the privacy.

Your first impression would be how quiet everything was...until you really stopped to listen.  Then you would hear the birds singing, and the wind in the trees.  You might hear a dog bark, far away.  You did not hear traffic, or construction noise, or trains.  It was peaceful and serene.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, getting to the house was an adventure - driving up Four Mile Canyon, then turning on Logan Mill Road and onto Escape Route - a sometimes gravel, sometimes dirt but always full of washboards and potholes  steep climb with many switchbacks.  By the time we arrived home, we felt as if traversing the road to our house we had shed the stress and worries of everyday life.  Our home was our sanctuary and our retreat.

Evenings were completely silent - just the whispering of the wind in the trees to lull you off to sleep.  You felt as if you could see every star in the sky.  The only thing that could interrupt your peaceful slumber would be the screaming of a mountain lion - and that is a sound that will wake you up in a hurry!  Guests (ahem, Mom!) would often stay awake half the night peering out the window and watching the deer graze only a few feet away.

Is it any wonder that 20 years and two children later, we look back at that simple, peaceful time and feel nostalgic?

We moved into the house at the end of June, 1989.  In July of that year, Mr. W was home and I was on a layover in Salt Lake City.  We hadn't even made the first mortgage payment yet!  Mr. W. was relaxing at home and heard honking and an officer knocking on the door.  He was given 5 minutes to gather essentials and evacuate.  There was a forest fire in a nearby canyon and the wind had just shifted direction.  Thankfully, we didn't have many belongings and didn't have any pets, so he was able to evacuate quickly and headed down the mountain and into Boulder.  He went to see a movie - Dead Poet's Society.  In that instance, the wind shifted again, and the fire did not get close to our house.  Mr. W was able to go home again that evening.  It was a wake up call though.

We saw bears, and deer, foxes, and bobcats.  We saw falcons and hawks, cardinals and hummingbirds.  We heard mountain lions, and saw their tracks - but thankfully never actually saw one of those!  It was always thrilling to see the wildlife, although a bit scary too.  We were always aware of the power of nature.  The chinook winds would barrel through the canyon and rattle the windows.  The snow would come down...and down...and down.  (As a Florida girl, I always loved that part!)

One night when we heard something getting into our trashcans, Mr. W went running downstairs stark naked to confront what he thought was a raccoon or a bobcat.  He threw open the kitchen door and found himself (in all his glory) face to face with a big black bear.  He shrieked like a little girl swore in a manly way, and slammed the door.  That is one of my favorite memories of that house!

That house, and that canyon, and that time were magical. 

I am so sad at the thought that they may now be gone.

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