After waking up in a northern-Wyoming forest, I started to get excited about where we would be that evening--we were on our way to my home in Colorado Springs. Living as an itinerant ice cream man these days, coming home feels especially rich. The familiarity with your environment makes you realize how much of your home place you truly understand. I love traveling and being on the road, but coming home is always special.
Although Colorado Springs is my hometown, my family was also in a state of flux. Last June, the house that we had called home for 21 years burned down in the Black Forest wildfire. This left my family displaced, initially moving between hotels, and later into a rental home. All the while, my family worked hard to rebuild a house on our same land, which remained largely intact. It was a trying time, but one that we weathered well with the help of friends, the community, and the joy that we have from just being together as a family. As I arrived, my family was busy scurrying about our rental house in the last stages of moving. We had been building our new home on the same property as the old, and were just two-weeks from moving in. Although life had settled for close to a year while living in the rental house, my family was starting a two-week limbo period between moving out of the rental and into our new home. In the meantime, they were in a similar state as us aboard the truck, splitting time living with friends.
We held our Colorado Springs event outside of our new house as the community came out for ice cream and to see our home. Being at the house in the ice cream truck was special. This whole expedition is focused on talking with kids about where they like to explore, how that exploration is valuable, and how they can study and protect the places that they love. We were talking with the next generation about these themes, while being in the exact place where this yearning for exploration started for Cameron and I. We were right by the trees that we loved to sit in and climb, the pond where we would ice skate in the winter and catch minnows in the summer, the park where we spent so much time trying to find (somewhat) edible plants, and the large forest that yielded new and interesting sights each time we made forays as young explorers. It’s this spirit of exploration that I see in many of the kids we meet, and hope to inspire in the others.
I was also so excited that this place that I love can still be explored. We talk of wanting to be a steward of the places that we explore, yet, last June when I surveyed the smoldering remains of our house, it seemed like my formative place of exploration had been permanently taken. Now we were all in a new home, excited to get back to the place that we love and belong.
Although I was away from Colorado at college for most of the time after the fire, leaving the benefit of another life established away from Colorado, it was satisfying that my family and I once again had a permanent place to call home. As we returned to our home, I was excited that my younger siblings would be able to explore the same things that I loved, with the addition of some fire regrowth ecology to observe as well.