One huge fire, one indomitable spirit (I hope)


There are a couple of huge wildfires burning northwest of Boulder, Colorado, right now – just a few miles from where we live. I hear that something like 11,000 people have been evacuated so far… thousands of acres have burned or are burning… and the winds right now are horrendous, making the fires impossible to control.

One fire – started by a blown-down electrical line – was on the property of a 78-year-old woman named Bobra Goldsmith, who boards and trains llamas and who I once interviewed.

Goldsmith escaped the fire unharmed, as did all of her more than 100 llamas and alpacas – a news video shows Goldsmith and a ranch hand running furiously to move the llamas away from the fire – but her house burned to the ground.

I remember the house clearly. It was full of books and papers and art – things from Goldsmith’s days as a university professor, belongings of her late husband, and artwork that her mother had created. When I was there, she kept showing me one thing or another (mostly llama-related and all interesting), with great enthusiasm for all the items.

I can still picture her taking something off the wall and putting it in my hands so I could get a better look at it. I remember her digging through piles of papers in her office to show me an old brochure she had created.

She had a lot of stuff that meant a lot to her… it’s all gone… and I feel terribly sad for her.

The other thing I remember about that interview was how full of life Goldsmith was. When I drove onto her property, I saw this woman with a wild shock of gray hair riding toward me on a bicycle (which is how she commuted around her ranch). Her dog came running up to me, happily barking, and – somewhere early on in my visit with her – she took me into one of the llama fields and, as dozens of llamas surrounded us, she told me every single one of their names.

You don’t run a successful llama ranch without a good deal of strength – mental, emotional, and physical. I’ll just hope that her strength will pull her through as she returns to what was a lifetime of belongings… and is now a pile of ashes.