A Different Summer by Donna Cooner

This week's theme is "pets."  I'm going to get that in just a bit, but first...

The view of the approaching smoke from my backyard.
It's been a difficult start to summer.  Always in an educationally oriented career, summer has always been a time of transition, down time, and catch up.  I'm sure it's an enviable three months to those with a regular twelve month timeline.  Living in Colorado usually makes summer even more special.  Everyone is always outside enjoying the cool summer temperatures and gorgeous mountain views. Hiking. Cooking. Spending time with neighbors.  Tourist from all over the world flock to Fort Collins in the summer.

You probably know, however, this Colorado summer is different.

Combining record setting temperatures with terrible drought, wild fires are burning all over my beautiful home state. The High Park fire came within five miles of my house, burning much of the scenic Poudre Canyon that lies just north of my town of Fort Collins.  The Waldo Canyon fire is burning about two hours south, near Colorado Springs, and many friends and family have contacted me to ask if I'm safe.  They see the national news filled with horrifying images of burning houses and mountainsides.  Thankfully, I'm okay.  Although the air was clouded with smoke and ash for weeks, I have little to complain about compared with so many who have been evacuated for weeks.  Some lost everything they own.  The gorgeous scenery that so many come to view will never be the same in my lifetime.  

Summer has definitely not been normal for me or anyone else living here.  Often, one of my evacuated colleagues dropped by and together we checked out the latest aerial maps to see if his house was still standing and if the fire line held over night.  Another friend, who owns a ranch outside of town, volunteered to take her livestock trailer up behind the fire line with a list of addresses to try to find and rescue animals left behind.  Dirty, tired firefighters walk through the downtown square on a regular basis, and there are signs everywhere thanking them for their amazing service.

Cassidy, right after surgery.  Breaks your heart, right?
Although I was safe from the fire, I had some other worries.  (Remember, how I said I'd eventually get to the pet topic?)  My twelve year old lab, Cassidy, suddenly developed a red, inflamed eye.  I thought it was due to the smoke.  After all, everyone's eyes were burning.  Unfortunately, a trip to the vet resulted in emergency surgery to remove her left eye.  She had severe glaucoma and was in a great deal of pain.  I spent the next few weeks nursing a blind dog, with a big cone on her head, back to health.

Thankfully, things are looking up.  I'm happy to report that, as of today, the closest fire to me is now 100% contained.  Cassidy no longer has to wear the cone of shame, and celebrated the removal of her stitches yesterday with a doggie scoop at Walrus Ice Cream.  Maybe we're all on the mend.  I hope so.
Cassidy, eating her ice cream

In the midst of all this, I try to write book two.  However, unlike other professions, our work as writers comes from our mind.  When minds are full of other things - likes fires and sick pets- it's hard to concentrate.  Maybe your worries aren't the same as mine, but you still have them.  When striving for focus, it's hard to put aside the stress of everyday life.  Yet, somehow, the story is also the escape.  If I'm able to truly immerse myself in writing, then the rest of the world drops away.

And that's my goal for the rest of this summer.


As much as we (I, I mean) can gripe about writing, especially finding time for it, it IS our escape. Where would we be without it?

I'll have a celebratory scoop of ice cream and think of Cassidy tonight!

How scary the fire came that close. You have the support and empathy from many Southern Californians watching the news. My cousin lost a home twice to fires, as did friends in Santa Barbara during the awful Tea Fire (sounds so benign). So glad you're all okay and hope you're finally escaping. Go, Cassidy!

Scary times, with all the fires. So sorry to hear about your dag, glad the dog is recovering. I have a kitty and when he was sick it felt worse than when I'm sick myself!

I live in fire country, and have been evacuated several times. It's unnerving and makes focusing on creativity a real challenge. Sending good vibes for you to melt into your story,.


Sheesh, what a summer! I haven't watched the news, I had no idea about the fires in Colorado. I'm so sorry. I hope you stay safe.

It looks like Cassidy is happy, now, but so sorry about the eye. Dogs seem to adapt to change much better than we do. I hope that's the case with Cassidy. We have a yellow lab. He has the inevitable hip problems that seem to come with all the labs we've ever had.

I hope you can find a way to get the worries out of your head so you can write. I once read to do a free write for twenty minutes clearing your head of all your worries, chores, have tos of the day so that you could be free to write creatively. You do have a lot on your worry list. Maybe you'd need a few more than twenty minutes, but maybe it would help.


Stay safe!

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