Oh, my river… Remember where you came from…

The last time I came to Lyons, I sobbed so hard that I had to pull my car over. I couldn’t see the road through my tears. This river, my river, destroyed this town.

I came home to write about it, and promptly my hard drive died, losing one and only one file that couldn’t be reproduced… The article I wrote was not to be published.  I have not been back to Lyons since December.

Dave and I sit in the Stone Cup this morning, eating breakfast at the best coffee shop in Lyons. I remember our first date, kayaking through Meadow Park on the St Vrain, alternately laughing hysterically and being frozen in fear. I remember ice cream at the Lyons Soda Fountain, an old fashioned ice cream parlor that quickly because a place full of memories for Dave and I. I remember the house concert that night – Suzanne Buirgy crooning in a living room up on the hill behind this coffee shop. That’s the first place that I reached over and held Dave’s hand.

That was almost exactly 11 years ago.

This town is where I fell in love with the man sitting beside me right now, drinking his coffee as we listen to a folk singer serenade the room, and I am filled with emotion.

Oh, my river.

You destroyed this town. But here we are, in a Lyons coffee shop seven months after the great flood, and I wonder if Lyons has healed.

Planet Bluegrass was under 4 feet of gravel following the flood. I don’t know if the trees that Dave and I hang our hammocks on every year for the Folks Festival still stand. When I drove past my favorite concert venue in December, I felt… almost… betrayed….  by this river that has sustained me in more ways than I can put into words.

Dave and I have camped on the St Vrain here. We have kayaked many miles of these higher reaches of the river. We have lazed in our hammock for 3 days every year at Planet Bluegrass for the past 10 years…. I had my first solid kayak roll at Black Bear hole less than a mile from here, which appears to be completely reshaped now.

This river, downstream, has offered me a livelihood. This river has allowed me to share eagles and herons and beaver and mink with hundreds of people.

Yesterday, I felt an overwhelming, immense gratitude for the flood – it has cleared the way for me to expand my canoe offerings. I am in awe of the power of water.

But now, I sit with a sense of foreboding. Oh, my river… How much has Lyons healed?

We drive to the memories. We drive to the places that shaped who we are today. Who we are together.

The river has changed. Obviously. There are still houses destroyed, but the streets are full of people, and the echo of hammers against nails fills the air. There is a spray painted sign on one of the ruined homes. It says “We are blessed! We R OK!”

My grief is not as all-encompassing as it was. It is tinged with hope.

To help with the recovery, please visit http://www.lyonsfightsback.org/!

Symbol of hope above the riverbank