I haven't been on FAA much lately. Oh, here and there, sorta hit and miss, but I have not spent a lot of time on it... Besides this being a normally busy time of year for me, the flood along the Front Range here in Colorado has really taken its toll. I live in Longmont. Even though our property was not affected by the flood, it has still been emotionally draining as I have watched (and helped) friends who lost a lot of their things. I have heard of people who lost animals, like horses, who were precious to them--some folks even lost loved ones. Utter. Devastation.
I read that the effects of the flood will be felt into next year, as many of the irrigation ditches for the farmers were destroyed. Rain is usually very precious in our semi-arid climate. We normally get only about 15 inches a year. September 2013 brought 17 inches to this area in a week or so. That's what caused our problem--too much rain in too short a time period. Next spring, the farmers will need the irrigation, and I hear it may not be there. So, that will cause another problem. But that is next spring, and it has just turned autumn--autumn in the mountains is a huge tourist attraction.
Along with many others, I am unable to easily get to the mountains like I normally do. There are only a few main thoroughfares to get up there, and the closest ones to me were totally destroyed. No one can drive on a road that has been broken and washed away. Big parts of a few our highways are just no longer there. These roads are not temporarily closed due to being flooded so that they need to dry out--they are gone. The violently rushing waters ripped the roads away.
It used to take me about an hour to get to Rocky Mtn National Park--now it will take about 3 to 3-1/2 hrs (one way). Travelling there has gone from being an easy day trip (for hiking, painting en plein air, and/or photography) to now being at least an overnight trip... It will cost way more in gas money, and there will also be lodging expenses--plus, meals with tips will cost more, too. That is, if I can even talk someone into taking me. Since I had to quit my day-job several years ago, my husband and I share a vehicle. It usually works out okay, but not in a situation like this...Bill needs the car to go to and from work. That trumps my need of it, and I am suffering the affects of apprehension. I.Am.Afraid. ...I am afraid of missing the aspen and the elk bugling up in the mountains this year.
You see, fall is my favorite season up in the Park. I usually get to experience a crisp autumn in the high country 2 to 3 times over a few short splendid weeks--and then I literally long for it the rest of the year. There is a stand of aspen at West Horseshoe Park up in Rocky that is beyond beautiful when it is at peak color. My personal discovery of it occurred in 2010. I got out of the Subaru and decided to talk a little hike up the hill on which the trees stood. The mid-afternoon light filtering through the golden leaves was so gorgeous it brought me to tears of joy. The memory of this is instilled into my being, but I feel a deep need to go there again and again. Yet, it happens only once a year.
Currently, the portion of Rocky Mountain National Park that contains this glorious golden wood is closed due to the flooding. I fear that this special time of year will not happen for me this season, and I have been grieving over it. It sounds extremely small compared to what some of my friends have lost, and I sorta feel bad for writing it here, but I guess writing it down is part of the healing process. I call this particular stand of aspen, Lothlorien. If only it could miraculously stay golden all year as Lothlorien did in Tolkien's trilogy. I do have photos of my special place. Perhaps I will do a series of paintings about it. No, I must do a series of paintings about my Lothlorien.
I have heard that two of the towns I love to go to, Lyons and Estes Park, are devastated--and that grieves me as well. Many people around here didn't carry flood insurance because they didn't live in a flood plane. I hurt for them, and I am hoping they will be able to rebuild--but I do wonder about that. One of my favorite places was totally flooded. The Stone Cup was a "mom-and-pop" coffee shop and café in Lyons that showed people's art on a monthly basis. It was also a very popular spot for locals to gather, enjoy a light meal, listen to music, and meet friends. The owners thought of people like me who have food allergies, and they accommodated the gluten-free/dairy-free crowd. Many places don't. The Stone Cup was only 20 minutes from my house--on the way up to the Park, and sometimes, for a treat, I would get one of their very tasty vegan muffins with a cup of something hot. It was not only yummy, but refreshing as well! ...I recently saw a picture of this wonderful place in some online news, and it made me cry. Perhaps you have heard of Planet Bluegrass--a wonderful venue for music festivals. It was also destroyed. The Stone Cup was close to that. Heck, the Stone Cup was close to my heart. I really hope they recover from the flood.
I guess the only nice thing about all this is that people have come together, as they often do when tragedies occur. Friends and neighbors are really helping each other, with local churches joining together and helping people as well. I have heard some amazing stories, seen some unforgettable videos and photos, and I have gone through something I hope I never experience again. Some of our land has been scarred by flash flooding that carved new paths for the overfilled rivers and creeks. Our hearts have been scarred by the trauma of the flood--the land will heal, and our hearts will heal. We will heal.