The Bolder Boulder—notice the spelling—is an annual 10K foot race. If I had arrived here ten years earlier, back in my running days, I’m sure I would have participated. As someone who’d done the Honolulu Marathon six times, the last when I was 64, 10 kilometers would have felt like a piece of cake or a walk in the park. Choose your cliché. I also sometimes call my town “Boldeer” in honor of the families of deer that like to walk down our streets and chomp on grass in our gardens. Their ancestors were here centuries before we two-leggeds invaded their space, but they still roam their old habitats and let us approach them really close before they gambol away. And when it’s time for my birthday, I’ll sign my emails “Reyn-older-in-Boulder.”
But this has been an especially tough year in our little university city of just over 100,000 residents, a hotbed of left-leaning well-to-do democrats that favored Bernie Sanders in 2016, a dark-blue island in our until recently red Western state. First there was the King Soopers shooting in South Boulder, or SoBo, back in April. An apparently insane young man with a Muslim name from a nearby town came to one of our large supermarkets and shot ten people dead, including one of the first police officers on the scene. Like many others in our small-town-feeling mini-city, we knew one of the victims. It’s like that here in Boulder. You go to a store, restaurant, or café, and someone is sure to shout “Reynold” or “Cedar” (my wife). Then a friendly five-minute exchange ensues. It’s part of Boulder’s charm.
The next-to-last day of the year was especially heinous. With winds clocked at up to 115 miles per hour, spruce trees lay uprooted in many a yard. Some damaged nearby roofs or cars. We were lucky. Only one big cottonwood branch fell with a thud on our back deck. Fortunately, no one’s head was in the way to break the fall. It would have been nasty. Then we heard about two wildfires, a smaller one about a mile north of us in North Boulder and a larger one three or four miles to the south. Fortunately, the one closer to us was quickly extinguished. But the one to the south was a perfect (fire)storm. Boulder’s severe drought coupled with the intense, hurricane-like winds quickly whipped up the flames, and in the end 991 homes were totally destroyed and close to 200 more were significantly damaged. A Target and an Element Hotel were burned to the ground and many other shops, like the area’s Costco and Tesla store, were impacted and a week later remain closed for repairs. Thousands of evacuees still can’t go home to their smoked-up homes, and the residents of Marshal, Superior, Louisville, and unincorporated Boulder County are traumatized. All this on top of 22 months of Covid. Our Episcopal parish, St. John’s, had four families that lost everything in the fire. Poor Boulder! I’m glad my people have given us the word OY!