Welcome back to Uncle Tom’s Corner.

This time I want to tell you about smells. Not the “knock a buzzard off a gut wagon” smells or the orchids-in-the-air smells when they open the plane doors in Hawaii smells or even the “good heavens, do they sell that perfume/cologne by the gallon” smells but smells none-the-less.

In the Francis Ford Coppola movie about the horrors of war the character Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore, played by Robert Duvall, made the statement “Smell that? Know what that is? It’s napalm. I love smell of napalm in the morning. It smells like…victory.”

In a recent column I addressed the smells at a barbecue competition. “Unless you’re a PETA person if you’ve never attended a BBQ contest you really should…even if you’re a vegetarian. The aromas coming out of the BBQ pits are at least intoxicating and at best borderline euphoric. So I wandered around looking at the cars in the car show until 10:00 AM…judge’s sign-in time…and inhaled the aroma of the cooking meats.”

My most recent competition took me back to Alamosa which meant driving to Walsenburg and hanging a right to catch Hwy. 160 West. Somewhere between Colorado Springs and Walsenburg is a huge car lot with most of a zillion cars lined up one right after the other. Turns out those are the Volkswagens that were recalled when Volkswagen falsified the emissions reports. Don’t even want to think about what it would do to Denver’s traffic issues if all those were turned loose on our highways and by-ways. But I digress.

Between Walsenburg and Blanca I drove through the Spring Fire burn area. Its one thing to read about the forest fires or to see video clips of them on TV or YouTube or wherever. Its another thing entirely to drive through mile after mile and past mountain after mountain of barren mountainside or charred acre after acre of what was once verdant forest. Even several months later, the smell of the burn borders on overwhelming.

There were several places where I could see a house standing and all around it was charred, barren dirt. On the same patch of dirt and nearby was a concrete foundation and what remained of a stone chimney and a concrete foundation.

To see and smell that and to try to imagine being a firefighter trying to battle that conflagration. Or to envision the terror and confusion of the wildlife trying desperately to get away from it all.

I made it to Alamosa, met up with some new acquaintances and judged the contest. They had the bluegrass bands playing, had some alligators from the nearby alligator farm in attendance, a bunch of young people from Adams State College working as volunteers. All-in-all a nice time but the biggest takeaway was the Spring Fire burn area. I won’t feel bad if I never have to smell that again…or napalm for that matter.

See you back at Uncle Tom’s Corner in a couple of weeks.