That’s how the Waldo Canyon Fire outpouring of goodness started for me.
My parent’s neighborhood had been coned off and the entrance blocked by security guards and police because their neighborhood had been placed on Mandatory Evacuation Status due to the disturbing close proximity of the fire. But, I was determined to help them evacuate. So I told the law enforcement officers that I was entering at my own risk, and started running up the (long), steep, (uphill) road to their house. I was not in running shoes and it was at least 100 degrees. It was about 1:30 pm, Saturday, June 23, 2012.
I only ran for about 150 yards. That’s when a spotlessly shiny, red, four door truck screeched to a halt next to me, the driver leaned over to open the passenger door and told me to get in. I jumped in. The car had leather seats, and I had never seen nor met this man in my life. I told him the walker ahead of me was hurrying up the hill to get his dog. We stopped to pick him up too.
The driver introduced himself as Pat Holmes and, racing up the hill, asked where he should take us. The other man’s destination was first, mine much further up the mountain. Pat didn’t know who my parents were, but when I told him their street, he aimed for it, and pointed out his own house as we sped by. I protested: “No! Drop me off here! I can run the rest of the way! You need to get your stuff !!!”
“Your folks are more important than my stuff.”
That’s a comment I might never forget.
From that moment on, friendship, caring, concern, help, kind words, support, love, food and coffee overflowed:
Donna and the three women who drove here all the way from Nebraska to take the Soap and Lotion Making Class graciously and with concern and understanding, accepted the fact that I had to cancel the class 30 minutes before it started.
Susan and Patrick at Venetucci Farm gave us space for the goats in one of their pens, and later gave us space for the chickens, rabbits, dogs and a house for us to stay in.
Della from The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo offered us goat housing.
Donna and Mauricio helped us load the cars in case of evacuation.
Janell kept the boys for us all day long, while we prepared to evacuate.
Shannon kept us updated by text on all of the fire updates the first night, because we have no TV and our laptop was on the blink and our desktop hard drive in the car (to be evacuated) so we had no internet…and it hadn’t dawned on us to listen to the radio.
Art and Rachel opened their home (not a bad option, considering he’s a gourmet chef) for my parents to spend their week-long evacuation.
Dagmiris, Ernesto and their kids brought us a delicious dinner then helped us load trucks for evacuation once it became necessary. They held and cuddled one of our black rabbits when the chaos of the situation was more powerful than finding a cage for the little fuzzball.
Tyrel called to tell us we needed to evacuate…then showed up at 10:30 pm with Mark, Thomas and Lance, and three trucks and a flatbed trailer. They (all city boys except Tyrel) helped load 100 chickens…and that’s the funny part…when Thomas was little, I couldn’t PAY him to eat a backyard chicken egg or go near our chickens. And, here he was, all grown up, adrenaline pumping, loading them into cages. They helped The Animal Whisperer set up a makeshift chicken coop at 11:30 pm at our evacuation house and unloaded everything into the house.
Barbara gave us all the bedding we needed for the mattresses we put on the floor in the vacant rental we slept in for the first four nights. She and Mark fed us dinner and breakfast and coffee and dinner again and I’m sure some other meals and let us watch the news on their TV.
Reynaldo brought us a huge cooler loaded with at least 4 bags of ice and tons of bottled water. (We didn’t have a refrigerator.)
Danny, a 60- or 70-something man in an electric shopping cart at the grocery store (who I had met in the produce department 10 minutes prior and told we had evacuated our family and farm animals) tracked me down while I stood dazed in the meat department and gave me his name and phone number. He offered us his front yard for the animals.
Judy gave us coffee and bagels and a stove to cook our eggs on and TV to see the 8 am press conferences. (Our stove wasn’t functional).
Makayla went with me the 40 minute round trip and braved the 105 degree heat in the blasting sun to milk the goats each day…remember they were at Venetucci Farm, 20 minutes away. She and Cindy and Shandy provided us with refrigerator space for the milk.
Vicki, Zack and Richard gave us fresh cut, unfertilized grass clippings for the rabbits to eat.
Makayla, Tyrel and Mauricio helped clean out the ammonia laden chicken coop at Pinello Ranch, where we moved half way through our 8 day evacuation, to be close to the goats and have the chickens and rabbits in a cooler environment (a huge improvement from the garage that doubles as a kiln that they lived in for the first half of the week).
Aunt Marsha took the boys (with 5 minutes notice) to Denver to spend a few fun days with my sister and her family.
My sister and brother-in-law, Ashley and Matt, kept the boys and entertained them for three days…to remove them from the stress and fear that was life the week of the fire.
Ernesto helped us move all of the 100 chickens, 5 rabbits, two dogs, mattresses and stuff to the house at Pinello Ranch.
The Good Thyme Cafe in Canon City, Colorado, did not allow my parents to pay for their breakfast, since they were evacuees.
My cousin Dave and his wife Susan picked the boys up from Denver and entertained them for an afternoon, then fed us all dinner.
Sandy, Betty and Dave helped us move home from Pinello Ranch, and Susan, Zach and Kate, Mom and Dad joined us to help unload things into the house. Mom and Dad fed us all lunch.
Ani, Marilan, Stefani, Karen, Richard, Doris, Kathleen, Lauren, Bau, Mila, Gabriel, Christine, Eileen, Aaron and at least 30 others called and emailed throughout the week to express their concern and desire to help if needed.
To those of you I’ve forgotten to write on this list, please forgive me.
To ALL of you, your thoughtfulness makes my heart HUGE with gratitude, and humbled by the fact that I know I will not be able to repay you, or thank you enough…until your time of need.
And, that is when I will do the same for you.
– The Goat Cheese Lady