Posted on June 24, 2012
Hot, windy and dangerous.
Creede is a place where you can sit on your porch and watch the sun set on valleys that are miles away. The end of daylight often turns the peaks a soft shade of pink. The Rio Grande river looks like liquid silver on the edge of town when the light fades. That’s not the case this week.
We are downwind of the “Little Sand Fire” which is 13 miles northwest of Pagosa Springs. The fire began as a lightning strike on May 13th. It’s burned over 17,000 acres–most of it on rugged, hard to reach land managed by the San Juan National Forest. Clearly this doesn’t compare with the big fires near Ft Collins which have destroyed houses and is blamed for at least one death so far.
We have seen smoke drift into our little paradise off and on for the last two years–mostly from fires in New Mexico. This year it’s hot and windy. At certain times of day you can smell the smoke as well as see it. (I joked with friends that the Hollywood folks in town to film “The Lone Ranger” probably felt right at home. Today Creede looked more like L.A. under a smog alert.)
Biologists say this is nature’s way of cleaning house, a process that will rid the forest of weak trees and bring new life. The same is apparently true of the beetle infestation that is killing off Englemann spruce in the Rio Grande National Forest.
I talked to an avid fly fisherman at the hardware store this morning. He says the fishing is great right now on the Rio Grande. Fish don’t smell the smoke, but they do eventually feel the heat if the water temperature begins to rise. He was pretty calm about the whole thing. Reminding me that the afternoon showers people here call the “monsoons” should start around the 4th of July. I would be happy for them to come a little early. I like sitting on the porch listening to thunder roll through the canyon almost as much as watching a sunset.