We noticed it when we first moved back to Colorado. It was obvious without the 9 foot walls to contain it. Maybe I saw it before we moved away. Maybe I didn't. But, I'm sure I took it for granted. Then the fire happened. And the flames couldn't burn it. In fact, they ignited it. And it spread like wildfire. Community.
Everyone lives in a neighborhood. But not every neighborhood has a sense of community.
When we bought our house here 7 years ago we didn't realize the investment we made. We were very well aware of our financial commitment, but what we didn't realize is that the more prodigious commitment was the emotional investment in the people in our neighborhood.
After all, this is where my kids have met some of their best friends. (Ones who still play a twilight game of hide and go seek.)
This is where I stalked the parents of my kids best friends, until they finally gave in and became some of my best friends. (As if they had a choice.)
Here my kids can walk over to my neighbor Carol's house for some foster grandma/craft time. (Did I mention my kids' mother is NOT crafty? Or fun.)
My kids walk to school, which is right down the road from my house. Where we know and love all the teachers. Where my friend Hillary just started a community garden.
Our favorite hang out is Squeak, the soda shop owned by our friends down the street who are moving to a new neighborhood, but will always be a part of this one.
You see, the people who live in this part of town? They're different. They tend to be the relaxed, down to earth, outdoorsy types. Ones who are more self possessed than invested in possessions. With an intelligent sharp wit. And an almost unnatural love (or at least tolerance) for the deer that freely roam (ok, rule) these parts and sample (ok, consume) their gardens and flowers. Unless that's the rabbits. Or the bears.
If you're one of the lucky ones, maybe this sounds like your neighborhood.
If you're not, maybe this used to sound like your neighborhood. Before the fire took your home.
And what does a community do when a fire ravages our neighbors homes?
Because Americans are doers.
So, as the flames crested the ridge and threatened our community, smoke and ash saturated the air, a long line of cars evacuated. In the most orderly fashion I have ever seen in my whole life. And I was completely in shock having just moved from Morocco where the concept of a queue is nonexistent.
Friends helped friends, neighbors helped neighbors, and strangers helped strangers.
Within the span 24 hours, the community had taken care of their own. Opening their homes, lovingly preparing food and sharing it far and wide, signs of appreciation for the firefighters filled the north west side and t-shirts to benefit the victims were already designed and on sale. Allowing anyone, anywhere to become part of our community's recovery.
While the fire took some our neighbors homes. It didn't take our community. It illuminated it.
These are the people in my neighborhood.
This post is dedicated to the firemen who worked tirelessly to save our homes and to my friends Lynn and Deb who lost theirs.