Hermit’s Peak and Calf Canyon Fires

Sunday, April 24, 2022. This is the ridgeline behind our house in Pendaries Village, in New Mexico, two nights ago. The Hermit’s Peak fire started on April 6, when a prescribed burn got away from the Forest Service. The Calf Canyon fire (cause still being investigated) began on April 19, about 4 miles away–upwind, so probably not related to the first fire.

On Friday, 4/22, the two fires merged and–powered by an unusual “wind event”–raced to the northeast–15 miles on Friday. The Las Vegas (NM) airport clocked a wind gust at 76 mph, so gusty that air tankers and helicopters couldn’t fly. There was really no way of containing the fire. It now covers about 54,000 acres, still growing and and is still 0% contained.

There’s still no word on our cabin–it may be several days, even a week, before we learn its fate. It’s been our getaway place for the last 20 years. If it’s gone, we’ll miss it greatly. I loved to be there when it snowed–something this Illinois girl has missed in Texas.

But most of the people who’ve lost homes in this fire don’t have another place to live. We have MeadowKnoll–and feel grateful for that good fortune. Just another reminder (as if we needed one!) that life is unpredictable, catastrophes happen, and all we can do is take a deep breath and then let it go.








It’s a good morning to remember Mary Oliver.

To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

― Mary Oliver

36 comments on “Hermit’s Peak and Calf Canyon Fires

  1. I keep looking for an update — how is your cabin doing? The news isn’t good from there, but hopefully your cabin has escaped.

  2. Hi Ssan, I am so sorry this is happening…it looks horrendous..sure hope your cabin is safe and praying for NM. xo

  3. Prayers and empathy from east TN and Gatlinburg area. We have just had another big fire (100 structures and 6 fire trucks destroyed but thankfully no deaths. . They are devastating and heartbreaking. Our motto here is Mountain Strong,,, Sending some to you. Love your books, have most of them. “Dahlias” is a big favorite but China is #1.

  4. Prayers for you and yours coming your way. Also, for all of your neighbors and friends in this area. I had not heard of this fire before your posts (and I have a retired firefighter in the house who watches for these events!) Please keep all of us updated on your news.

  5. I saw the picture in the paper this morning about the fire near Las Vegas and knew it was close to your place. Prayers that your cabin will be spared. Mary Oliver always has the right words. Sending love to you and Bill.

  6. I live in Taos county, NM and we are in severe drought here and the winds last week were upwards of seventy mph. Fire is always a worry here and the smoke from the fires has filled the skies here since last week. Prayers to all those in other counties here and to those who are trying to evacuate and save their livestock.

  7. Dearest Susan so sorry to hear about the fire. I live in Calif. We have had so many scares Lord willing your cabin will be safe. It looks like you have a good fire defense space surrounding it.

  8. Prayers to you – being a Californian, we can relate to the anxiousness of wildfires. Have courage Susan.

  9. Oh, I hope the fire is out soon. So sad to see. Love Mary’s words. Love your writings, too, Susan. Be safe. Be brave.

  10. Dear Susan and Bill, you (in TX), all of New Mexico, including and especially those affected by this firestorm, are in my prayers.

  11. Susan, standing with you in your uncertainty. Thanks for sharing the MO poem. Life happens and we support each other through to what each day brings.

  12. Praying for you, your neighbors, and everyone threatened by the wildfires in New Mexico and Arizona. Please stay safe.

  13. Thank you again and again for your books and blog – I’m with Mamamiau: the loss of others doesn’t make your loss smaller.
    I like the quote but have to admit that I never heard of Mary Oliver (I’m sorry, I’m german and have another literature history). I looked her up in Wikipedia – oh my! Could you please recommend a book to start? There are so many 🙂
    Thank you, Nina

  14. Praying for all the residents of New Mexico, Arizona and elsewhere threatened by wildfire. I lived alongside of the Catalina Mountains near Tucson in 2020 and know how terrifying wildfires can be. Praying for the safety of the firefighters too!

  15. Just heard from our friend who is in Alto NM just outside of Ruidoso. Her place was spared and she was able to give shelter to others, along with a horse or two. She and I, along with Robert, send our love.

  16. Sending you and others who are facing dangers from fires and other natural disasters positive thoughts. Wish I could send you the abundant rain and flooding from the east coast and what we regularly experience in low lying Delaware.

  17. So sorry for this tragedy. We have fires in Arizona, too. May God bless the entire area with rain and help from the dedicated first responders!

  18. These fires are so sad and terrifying. I pray for you and all the others who have lost homes and such.

  19. How mankind needs to create war with one another, when we still don’t even know how to protect ourselves from fire is and has been my question my whole life. Last summer here in the Pacific NW we were surrounded by the fires in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. It went on for weeks and weeks darkening the sky and making it unsafe to breath the soot laden air. Still, I had neighbors who refused to wear masks and all of that farce. And just this month I have had all of the forest surrounding where I live logged. A beautiful natural mixed forest woodland with all of the native shrubs and flowers and wildlife gone forever, as it will now be ‘developed’. Why we cannot see nature and what it means to us, I do not know? Why we do not teach one another on what we rely on, and what to guard against, I do not know? Air and water and earth. It is not endless people.

  20. Susan,
    What a tragedy for those who call this place home or a place away from home. What a loss for all -the beautiful flora and fauna of the area.
    I live in Amarillo on ten acres of grassland that is currently like a tinderbox. Every morning when I awaken, I check my surroundings for any sign of smoke. Mary Oliver still speaks for us when our own words fail us.

  21. Be safe, Susan. Fires can seem so very overwhelming. Thank you for sharing the news. Sending protective and loving energy to you all there.

  22. Susan, if your cabin is lost I hope you will allow yourself to grieve for it. Yes, it is terrible that others have lost a home, but that fact does not lessen your own loss. The cabin is more than a building, I am sure, and I am sad for you.

  23. Sending hugs and strength, Susan, for you and you NM neighbors. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and perspective.

  24. We have a home in the Magdalena Mountains. The wind event on Friday was the very worst we’ve seen. Terrifying, and our mountains are not on fire! Hope it turns out well for your cabin. Yes, things are only things and Mary Oliver was so right with her words. But our things hold meaning for us too and we can be allowed, I think, to hope they stay with us awhile longer. Take care…

  25. These last few years have meant loss for many of us. Some of those losses could have been avoided if more people cared about each other and the earth we share. Like the loss of a family member, the loss of a place you love is grieved. My thoughts are with you.

  26. It is truly sad that the Forest Service controlled burn even took place given the wind conditions in so much of the south & southwest…the same thing happened in Tx when the Tx Parks & Wildlife dept did a controlled burn near Bastrop. The sad thing is it is very hard to sue a governmental agency for doing something this very very stupid.

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