Stories Fireweed

Fireweed to the Rescue

As I drive up the mountain from Santa Fe, I reflect on the marathon year I just completed. I am taking a break. I just bought my first home. When I first applied to the program, I was told my income was too low to qualify – even for the lowest income level. Being told I couldn’t do it gave me the resolve to prove them wrong.

Certainly there were obstacles. I had no savings. I was unemployed for the year before I arrived in Santa Fe. I had no profession or career to fall back on. But now I was working as a pizza delivery driver and that was a start. Most of my income was in tips, but those were not reported to the IRS and didn’t show up on my tax forms. So, for the next year, I documented all my tips and got a second job. When I wasn’t driving around delivering pizzas to the masses, I was driving around to grocery stores, checking the filtration systems behind their water dispensers.

Now that is all in the past. I’m still delivering pizzas, but I quit my second job. I finished all the paperwork, signed a contract, obtained a mortgage, and moved into my home. Now I can relax. But I don’t feel relaxed. I feel empty. My core has been stressed to its limits. I am burned out and exhausted.

Arriving at the parking lot for the Aspen Vista Trail, I turn off the engine and sit for a moment, savoring the stillness. Then I will myself to move. Get out of the truck, strap on my backpack, start up the trail. Before long I see some hot pink flowers lining the trail. They’re so beautiful! I walk on…slowly. I’m tired. I have about as much energy as a wet dish rag. But there is a spark of joy in me now.

Soon I arrive at the intersection of the trail and the stream that cuts across and flows down through Little Tesuque Campground. The water is plentiful this year and has provided the moisture to support a whole group of these bright pink blossoms. I find a rock and sit among them. I feel the tension flowing out of me and the energy flowing in. The stress is gone and I feel a renewed sense of self. I am back!

At the time I wasn’t at all familiar with this flower. I later discovered it was Fireweed and that it’s the first flower to colonize an area after it was blackened by fire. A few years later, I found it in abundance near Crested Butte, Colorado, and that was where I made the essence.