Fire and Ice

fire and iceI woke up before Sarah. Knowing how much she loves to sleep, I left her sleep while I cleaned up. That way, I could tear down our tent while she was showering, saving us some time. My mind was on today’s ride; a 39 mile trip to Humboldt Redwoods State Park. It had been a while since I’d done much more than 20 miles in one day. I knew I was in good shape, as was Sarah, so I told myself to stop being my mother and stop worrying.

On my way back from the bathhouse, my attention was focused on our campsite and nothing surrounding it. Sarah was still asleep, but my warped mind said the best way to wake her up was to shake the tent. It worked. Sarah came bounding out of the tent, fearing we were having an earthquake. Her hair was a mess, and her mascara from the night before, made her eyes look like a raccoon. I couldn’t help but laugh which irritated my usually sweet niece.

“I’m sorry Sarah, but I couldn’t help myself.”

She grabbed her duffle bag and left to clean-up. I rolled up the sleeping bags, tore down the tent, then packed my bike trailer. I thought some about the farmer I had met last night. He was such a sweet man; I hoped he’d find love again, because he deserved more than the lonely life he was currently living.

Sarah surprised me by returning to our site in less than 20 minutes. She looked a whole lot better, back to the natural beauty she always displayed. I had placed some granola and juice on the table for her, which she devoured quickly.

I heard someone stirring from a campsite not too far from us, but not being one to be too nosey, I ignored the disruption to our quiet morning. Sarah sat at the picnic table looking a bit out of it.

I said, “So, are you having second thoughts about riding with me?”

“No, Aunt Betsy, I was just thinking about some of those guys I danced with last night. One was really cute.”

“And who was this cute guy?”

“I think his name was Alan. He just got out of the service, but there was something about him that sent my heart soaring.”

“Hmm, sounds like a good case of physical attraction. Did he feel the same way?”

“I don’t know; that’s what’s bothering me. He was like fire and ice last night. One minute we were heating it up on the dance floor, and the next minute he’d be buried in his drink not saying a word.”

“Well Sarah, it sounds like maybe he’s just a bit shy, and we got to get a move on it because we have 39 miles ahead of us.”

Sarah gets up and starts putting on her bike gear on. It’s then that both of us notice a young man sitting on a bike with saddle bags and his own trailer, looking and smiling at us. I waved, not recognizing him, and hoped he’d just go away and leave us along, but Sarah screams. I look around hoping she hadn’t wakened the dead. She rushes over to our smiling biker and wraps her arms around his neck. They kiss, and it’s then that this somewhat disengaged aunt realized that this kid must be Alan.

Introductions are made. Alan explains that he just couldn’t allow two women to ride around this country alone without any male protection. I was thinking, “Yeah, but will you really be protecting us, or should I be protecting my niece from you?” I could sense that Alan was trustworthy and meant every word he said. I could also see that there was truly chemistry between the two of them. No longer were they like fire and ice, now they were more like peanut butter and jelly.

Alan became an invaluable companion on our ride to the redwood campgrounds. He helped lessen the load of my trailer, was able to do some quick adjustments to my gears, and even kept a pesky fox from sabotaging our ride.

Our trip went by much faster than I had expected. It was amazing how time flies when you have good company and good conversation. Alan set both tents up then he and Sarah went for a walk. If only I could have a bit more of their energy, but I knew I wasn’t doing bad for a 57 year old woman. I got lunch ready then sat and read.

The campground was cool even though the temps were in the 90’s that day. The giant redwoods looked like they were touching the heavens above us. I felt close to God knowing that it was He who had put all these great things here on earth for us to enjoy. Several campsites had fires going in their fire pits. I said a quick pray that each person who lives on this earth respects the things that God has given to us. I couldn’t imagine such a great forest being destroyed by fire.

After returning from their walk and eating the lunch I had prepared, we sat around our campfire, thanks to Alan, and got to know each other better. I found out that Alan came from a close-knit family, and that his mother enjoyed scrapbooking as much as I did. He found out why I chose to go on such a long, and sometimes dangerous ride. And he found out that Sarah had eyes for him.

Before retiring to bed that night, Alan made sure our fire was out as did all the other campers around us. It felt good that we were not only surrounded by God’s beauty, but by people who respected His gift.

And in my real life, I’ve just returned from my annual trip to Chadron State Park, which explains why I haven’t blogged in such a long time. Chadron is a place I hold near and dear to my heart, but after my trip there last year, the park had a forest fire caused by lightning. It took out 40% of the Ponderosa pines, and came perilously close to the cabins we stay in. It took out several of the pines in the campground area that provided so much shade to many of the campsites. It was so disheartening to see this once lush and green park freckled with blackened trees.

This park has started its renewal process of taking out dead trees and allowing the prairie grasses to grow tall. I told myself that it was maybe God’s way of renewing the vegetation in this almost century-old park. After all, the fire had been set by lightning.

Such is not the same with the fires my mother and I left in Colorado Springs before our trip. Our beloved Black Forest, dry from too many years of drought, went up in flames. Officials are stating, unequivocally, that this fire and last year’s Waldo Canyon fire were not started by Mother Nature. That means someone, who does not respect the gifts God has given us, acted irresponsibly. Their negligent behavior took out 511 homes this year and 346 homes last year. Four lives have been lost along with several pets and animals, not to mention the thousands of acres of pine trees that were destroyed.

This, too, may be God’s way of renewing our aging trees, but it’s a hard pill to swallow when you see the destruction that fire can cause. Fire and ice can complement each other, one keeping the other from being too destructive, but many areas of this great country are lacking one or the other. The west is scorched while the Midwest had flooding.

I’m not schooled enough to be able to analyze why this is happening. I’m not sure those who are more educated have any better answers. My take is, everything here on earth is a gift from God, given to us to respect and enjoy. We cannot control the weather, no more than we can control what God does. We need to live life to the fullest, we need to respect our neighbors as we respect ourselves, and we need to know that God walks with us each and every day. He has not abandoned us; He was there helping the firefighters control the fire, moving His animals to safer areas, and helping all who inhabit these forested areas recover from a devastating event.

Colorado will eventually get the ice side of fire. Winter will come and hopefully bring some much needed snow. Our mountains and hills will turn green in the spring, much like the hills of Chadron State Park. Life goes on; it survives even when fire and ice tries to destroy it.

God bless you all. Please keep those affected by our devastating fires in your prayers, and as always, let’s keep going the distance.

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