Load the Animals Two by Two…

I think at some point in all our lives we experience the angst of a flooded basement. When I still lived in Chicago I remember from early on the value of having a sump pump and praying that the electricity would not go out so the pump would work and keep our home dry. When a major sewer replacement project was completed near my home on the North Side, I didn’t give it much thought until torrential rains came and we would stay dry while other neighborhoods had to bale water. It was not pretty, it was not fun but all those memories now dim by comparison to what we’ve recently experienced here in Colorado.

Colorado is basically considered a semi-arid climate. It simply does not get the rain they get back East. I often hear from the “natives” stories of the glory days of weather in Colorado where the sun would shine an average of 320 days a year and summer days were always blessed with a cooling afternoon rain that came just in time to relieve the heat but not affect any evening activities. Not to mention the fact that there is no humidity here and much less snow than people perceive which, in more “normal” weather times makes the climate only slightly less than perfect. The one chink in the armor was the potential for flood but even most natives would admit that severe flooding was something they never experienced in their lifetimes. Until now…

The past several years the weather patterns here have changed not unlike weather patterns all over the world. True the mornings and the evenings can still be glorious, but the climate has become much more dry and the rains more infrequent. Wildfires tend to occur every year now and drought has ravaged forests making them a prime target for an opportune lightening strike or an errant cigarette butt. Very seldom does it rain all day here and rains are never the gentle soaking kind but more of the fierce deluge kind. But those deluges are pretty much short lived and so the earth is capable of tolerating them. Until now…

This week the rains came with a vengeance, and a city like Boulder which normally gets on average eight inches of rain in the month of September got eight inches of rain in an hour. Coupled with its location being directly at the base of the Foothills and the rain not only pounded the city but water also came pouring down from the mountains and enveloped it.  Not good, devastating, a 100 year flood event.

I’ve never experienced devastation like this. The road that I travel to and from my job at Crate and Barrel collapsed and three cars went into the water (see the picture below). Granted it was a part of the road that is adjacent to my route, but I’ve traveled that same road many times before never once worrying for my well being. Now so many roads are closed and people all over are stranded. People are being zip-lined to safety over cresting rivers and creeks or rafted to drier land. Streets are loaded with debris and cars are traveling through water that crests at the top of their wheel wells. A rescue fire truck travelled through water that was at the level of its windshield. Roads were completely washed away, homes were torn off their foundations, people were and still are unaccounted for, and even though the sun is currently shining heavy rains are still being predicted for tonight.

The Road That I Travel To Work

The Road That I Travel To Work

But, there for the grace of God go I.  As I was driving home from work Wednesday night around 9:30 p.m. my phone gave off a loud weird noise, one I had never heard before. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that it was a flash flood warning, not a watch but a warning. I was driving in an area that at any moment could have flooded and flooded quickly and I did not even know it.  I’m still trying to figure out if that was a blessing or a curse. But I got home safe and dry and still today my home is safe and dry. I am one of the lucky few. Most people cannot say that. It will take years to recover from this flood.

It’s times like these that I know that my mother is looking down on me and protecting me. It could have easily been us flooded, stranded, our home devastated. But it was not. And after seeing the breadth of the devastation in Boulder (with potentially more to come) I look back on those days of flooded basements in Chicago and say that we had no clue what flooding meant. It would have taken something as massive as Noah’s ark to survive this flood. I only hope and pray that those most affected find the courage and the strength to get through this. They can count on us to help along the way.

Rainy Days and Mondays…

“Talkin’ to myself and feeling old. Sometimes I’d like to quit. Nothin’ ever seems to fit. Hangin’ around, nothin’ to do but frown, rainy days and Mondays always get me down.”(The Carpenters, 1971)

Slow, nurturing, steady rain, how unusual for Colorado and on a Monday no less. Brings back memories of the old Carpenter’s song. What is it about this type of rain that makes you want to curl up in bed with a good book or bake something tantalizing in the oven, or savor a cup of deliciously warm coffee? Even my dog is lethargic, curled by my feet as I write this blog.

Mondays are a different animal to me now. At some point they became the bane of my existence. I’m not sure when since I found my work rather fulfilling for many, many years. All of sudden I became aware of dread coming over me at about 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, that dread of thinking about getting back to the grind, back to work, back to the stress of another 80 hour week. As I progressed in my career, the responsibilities and demands placed upon me became greater and for many years I was hungry for that, I thrived for it. But there came a point where I heard Peggy Lee singing in my ear “Is That All There Is” and I knew that type of work life was no longer for me. Been there, done that, time to move on.

Now that I am “retired”, Monday is like any other in a progression of glorious days where I get to choose what I want to do and when I want to do it. And the same applies to the weekends. No longer are Saturday and Sunday my mecca. They are just like any other day of the week, only it seems I see more people out and about on those days. This is a gift of a magnitude I can’t even begin to put into words. It parallels that joy of childhood when one day is like all the others, filled with discovery, adventure and play. Over time we lose that precious feeling. We become slaves of the treadmill to the point that we forget that we have a life or even deserve one for that matter. The choices we make, the responsibilities we have dictate who we are and what we do. And there’s nothing wrong with that unless is causes you to forget who you really are and what is really important. For some people, work is important, fulfilling, something that makes them very happy. For many years, that was me. I always found tremendous fulfillment in my work until my mother died and I began looking over my shoulder finally believing that maybe I could not avoid a similar fate and if so, would I leave with a mountain of regrets. That’s all I needed. I was done. I’ve never looked back.

So although today is gloomy, overcast with a steady “Chicago-like” rain, one thing is for sure – rainy days and Mondays no longer get me down… and for that I will eternally grateful!