May 10, 2000
(c) Nancy Newell, 2010
Ponderosa pines, 10 years after the Cerro Grande fire devastated the forest around and the town of Los Alamos. The fire started as a prescribed burn by the National Park Service, but quickly burned out of control in the gusty and unpredictable May winds – gusts of over 50 mph are not uncommon during the spring. Over 400 families in Los Alamos lost their homes. There were no lost lives.
The entire town was evacuated on 5/10/2000. The ENTIRE town. And no one was allowed to return until a full week later.
My husband was born and raised there. We watched, on CNN and the local news, as the homes of his friends and neighbors burned to the ground. They ran the addresses of the homes that had been lost along the bottom of the screen. The homes of his parents, brothers and sister were spared. Every single house on his sister’s street, save hers and the house across the street were lost. Most families returned, rebuilt and moved on. Some never did.
The landscape around town has been forever changed. It was once a lush coniferous forest, teeming with wildlife. Now, this is what most of it looks like.
But, the aspen are returning. And there are baby ponderosas springing up all over the hillsides. The wildflowers are stunning in the spring. Hope springs eternal.
May 10, 2003
Not my shot.
On that Saturday, beneath this giant and ancient tree on the property of La Posada in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I married my best friend. My soul mate.
And because life moves fast, in those 7 years we have brought two beautiful little girls into this world, moved once, bought and sold more BMW’s than I care to think about. We have lost two precious dogs, and my grandfather. I quit my full-time (paying) job to stay home full-time with the girls, and Dave got a (much deserved) promotion which continues to make this arrangement work financially.
I went back to La Posada this weekend to wander around and remember our wedding day. The grounds look unchanged, and this tree continues to watch over.
Thank you, Dave, for making me so happy that day, and every day since.