Saturday, July 28, 2012

Saturday Musings: Rough Times in Colorado

Fire in Northern Colorado
It's been a difficult summer here in Colorado.

In June and July we had fires in the nearby foothills. I took this photo from my back deck during the first week of the High Park fire. The plume of smoke reflects the setting sun.

Colorado is certainly feeling the effects of global climate change. Summers are replete with damaging hailstorms, tornadoes, abnormal heat and, of course, fires. Even the winters are too warm, resulting in overwintering pine beetle, which kills off the pines. Last year, when the snow fell, the trees were fully leafed. The hard frost--and a true autumn--never came.

Carpenter Greg Zanis erecting crosses in Aurora
In late July came the Aurora movie theater shootings. Discussion of gun control heated up afterwards. Some folks were offended: "Can't we grieve first? Can't we talk about changing laws and society later?" Um. No.  Kids on Facebook or politicians don't get to tell me how and when to grieve.  It's reasonable for tragedy to propel action. It makes zero sense to me that citizens can purchase an AK-47. Not everyone here agrees, though. The sales of firearms in Colorado jumped the week after the shootings.

I've lived in Colorado for a long time, so it was painful to watch news coverage of the Aurora rampage. Beyond my horror and sadness, I also resented hearing sentimental platitudes about how the community of Aurora will eventually heal. The news programs used Littleton after Columbine as an example of a community coming together after a tragedy. In reality, the Columbine killings fractured the community. Video feed showing swarms of police outside the school building, waiting for the victims to crawl out, or drop down from windows, is something you can't forget. Even after the shooters killed themselves, the police remained crouched outside the school, weapons at the ready, while children and teachers bled inside.

Columbine resulted in years of accusations, civil suits, and fake martyrs. Poignantly, the carpenter who erected makeshift crosses to acknowledge the Columbine dead felt forced to remove the crosses after he got too many nasty phone calls. His highly personal method of grieving included acknowledging the death of the two teen gunmen. A group of Grief Deciders took it upon themselves to harass the man. The Columbine crosses builder, carpenter Greg Zanis, returned to Colorado recently. This time he honored the Aurora victims. He's pictured above. I'm glad he came back. I'm not very religious, but when I see compassion mixed with sincerity, I have to applaud it. Grief Deciders don't have either.

Flash mob
On a less serious note, today is National Dance Day.
To celebrate, I participated in a flash mob in old town Fort Collins. We all did some Zumba grooving. A little silliness is good for my soul. Especially when I can lord my flash mob participation over my kids. Because, yanno, I'm just that cool.