Sunday, July 15, 2012

Family Reunion and Scorched Earth

Bye Bye Cosmos

Tomorrow I am pulling Cosmos. They have reached weed status, taking over their space, spreading, shading, drinking up all of the moisture, so they must go. I've taken enough photos of their delicate petals, become less enamoured of their stems dripping with droplets, less excited by their very presence. Hidden beneath their feathery, delicate stems are the real garden gems: Just Joey, my lovely tea rose; a beautiful delicate pink Asian lily, zinnia seedlings that aren't getting enough sunlight to grow, and my new phlox. So bye bye cosmos. 

Family Reunion. Most every summer my mother-in-law's cousins gather here in Ault at our home for a picnic. We started the family reunions July 1994 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the marriage of the cousins' grandparents George and Emma Nicks. In 2004, we gathered to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Nicks' homestead and their move to this part of Northern Colorado. They journeyed nearly 50 miles from Longmont, CO in a covered wagon to settle east of Pierce, CO.  We have been meeting most summers since at our home This year's picnic was bitter sweet because one of the cousins pasted just before Christmas. It was a quiet party without Kenneth. And hubby's mom is now in a nursing home lost in happier days reliving her life as a teenager. 

This year's theme was classic cars. A couple of the guys have classic cars, so we thought it would be fun to get the old cars out, rev up the engines, and head out on the open road.  Two classic cars came ready to roar.

 Our entry: MY (note the emphasis on MY since certain family members have laid claim to her) 1967 Fort Mustang GT coupe, 289, 4 speed, 4 barrel carb. I bought her in the spring of 1971, my first year of teaching here in Ault. I loved that car. She was my first.  Our oldest daughter drove her all through high school and part of college. One day the old girl gave out on the highway. We towed her home and there she sat for well over 10 years. With other classics coming, hubby decided to get the old lady running. A bit of oil, spark plugs, points, a new fuel pump and fresh fuel and the old girl fired right up, ready to roll and roll she did first with a spit and a sputter, smoke rolling out the the dual exhaust then with pipes blasting, she cruised down the driveway like she was glad to have been awakened from a long spell cast by an evil witch. What a moment it was when dad presented the keys to Heather the next day so that she could take her for a spin around the driveway. The tears flowed.
The other class that came belonged to Andy, his 1941 Master Deluxe Chevrolet coup, souped up, ready to rumble.

Let the Party Begin

 Razzmatazz cone flowers with Russian sage and dill weed made pretty center piece

A bit of a mixed metaphor as I used lady bugs as the table theme. 
Lots of food, good weather, home made ice cream, and a yard full of children armed with squirt guns and water balloons made for a lot of fun.

Scorched Earth

 Not wanting to face the disaster in the house after entertaining 28 adults and children from 15 to 10 days old, I coaxed hubby into taking a drive to see where the High Park fire had burned. To remind you, this fire burned 85,000 acres over 17 days,  consumed 256 homes, and took the life of one woman who just didn't have time to escape.

These first photos are poor quality because I took them through the windshield. The darkened spots on the hillsides are not shadows, they are scorched earth. I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

We were surprised at the numbers of homes that we saw where the fire line came right up to the house and the house survived due, no doubt, to the valiant effort of fire fighters. We stayed on the main highways, not taking side roads into  neighborhoods where we felt that we probably weren't yet welcome, but we saw enough to get the idea of how wide spread the fire was. We drove down highway 14 through the lower half of Poudre Canyon, relieved to see that some of our favorite places--sweet little summer cabins, year round residences, and Mishawaka, a watering hole for bikers and hippies--had all survived.  (If you want to know more about Mishawaka, which is actually a bar and and and amphitheater, check out its Photo Gallery).  We were also struck by how random the flames must have been--a spot scorched here, a spot left untouched there. A tree black from bottom to top, another tree slightly burned, green grass already reclaiming much of the forest floor.

Another busy week. Jacob is back with us. We will head out on a camping trip Thursday. I need to get the house back in shape, do more weeding, and perhaps spread more mulch. The weather continues to be hot, hot, hot with little hope of rain. We are also on the countdown to the Olympics. Have you chosen your favorite athlete yet? Of course we are rooting for our Denver swimmer Missy Franklin. And we will eagerly be watching for commentary on the English country side.

Hope you all have a grand week full of good gardening with lots of July blooms.


  1. Ann, what stuck with me through out this post was the scorched hills....they are so reminiscent of what we still see here from the Kelowna fires of a few years ago. It's like going for a drive and viewing the same area....nature can be a devastating force, and I hope that yours are under control now.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  2. I'm pulling up some cosmos, too. They are so wild!
    Your family reunion sounds/looks fantastic! You have great hospitality, Ann!
    The fire photos are sad. Interesting, but sad.
    You are enjoying a perfect summer filled with people and plants.

  3. What an emotional post! I went from happy to sad. The party looked like it was fun. I'm loving the cars and center pieces. I love how you put the 2 tents together. You gave me an idea for my granddaughter's upcoming birthday party that I will be hosting next month. The pictures of the fire damage are incredible. I can't imagine 85,000 charred acres. Hope the area recovers soon.

  4. I've been thinking and praying for you all, just breaks my heart. I'm glad you had a fun reunion.

  5. Oh that landscape is just too familiar. I've posted a few times about the bushfires that touch us each year in Australia too, taking so many lives...amazing how quickly the bush regenerates though, keep returning to watch the fresh young green clamber over scorched blackened tree trunks.

    You are so brave to host such a big party sounded like a lot of fun though!
    I'm looking for cosmos to bloom again, I'm tired of winter!