We all know that somewhat trite and clichéd phrase, “Time heals all wounds.” It often takes different forms. “Give it time, sweetie.” “You’ll feel better eventually.” And, I’m going to tell you, right now, as you read this. Sometimes, that just doesn’t cut it.

Spring Flowers – 2020

What did, at least for me, was “It is going to be okay. I know it doesn’t feel like it now, but as time goes on, these feelings will change.” That wasn’t passive. That wasn’t trite. That… that gave me hope when I needed it.

Whether it’s trials of the soul or the regular trials of life. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is wait. There is an abiding temptation, particularly in the face of frustration or pain, to just do something, and that has gotten more people into more trouble that just about anything else in history.

In 2018, a fire swept through much of the land surrounding my home. It was one of those western wildfires you’ve heard about on the news. Big flames, mandatory evacuations, hotshot firefighters. The works. My family and business we’ve built over the last 30 years were evacuated twice. Both times, we didn’t know if we would be coming home or a pile of cinders.

I wrote about how it was fell under the category of ‘Acts of God’, the Things We Gave Up, and Returning to a Broken Shire.

All the buildings were intact, but much of the land was just… scorched.

As the business moved into the following year, my role in the family business changed. I was no longer one of two or three chefs. I was now the head of the barn, with 8+ people working for me directly, a herd of over 60 horses to manage, and 500 acres to keep up. You know, in case you were wondering why I haven’t been blogging quite as much lately.

Anyhow, what that meant for me was, not only did I have to relearn that side of the business, I had to do it while coping with many trails that had significant fire damage. And my own hurt and trauma over the whole affair. That first summer was roughest. The second summer was still pretty rough. Now we’re going into the third summer.

I had a lot of returning guests who were devastated by the damage done to the land. I had to find a way to put a cheery spin on it. We spoke of how there was a haunting beauty to the burn. We pointed out the first plants to come back, and how quickly the land seemed to be recovering in some ways.

Fallen timber

 We complained about how much clearing had to happen on the trails as charred trees snapped and fell on them with every windy storm.

New, green growth in the ash

The green that came up through the black was so vivid, so bright, that it was like the plants were rediscovering the color all over again. You see, the fire had burned away all the old, dead plants, all the brown and dry. There was nothing but the black of the ash and the new growth reaching for the sunshine.

We found new and interesting trails that would have remained hidden by thick timber without the fire. One of them, an old logging road that zig-zags through the rising, charred pines, we named “Phoenix Road”… because… it rises from the ashes. Never forget how important a sense of humor and a few stupid puns are, okay?

Riding in the Fall – 2020

Mostly, (and I mean, more than 95%) people who had known it before were able to quickly adopt this mentality, and the people who were new to my mountains were curious and interested. One still sticks in my head, though. He wrote that we shouldn’t take guests through the burn areas because it was depressing.

Hon, 90% of our trails have some kind of burn damage. The Silver Creek Fire burned our ranch to the North, South, East, and West.

And, you know something, before the fire, I could point out where there was STILL damage from a fire in the area in 1887.

Time can heal a heck of a lot. But “heal” doesn’t mean it never happened.

The smell of wildfire smoke on the air still sets me on edge. And watching the Troublesome Creek fire from our property this fall was absolutely gut-wrenching…

Troublesome Creek Fire – 2020

I still think about the devastation of leaving my home, never knowing if I would be able to come back, and cry over scars that still hurt.

But it’s getting better. I’m still healing. So are my mountains. They are still beautiful.

Sometimes, it’s enough to just have the hope that you will not always feel the way you do, hurt the way you are, or bleed the way you’re bleeding. Time heals, sure.

But mostly, healing just takes time.

Early morning wrangle-in – 2020