During the flooding in Colorado earlier this month, I began considering the swollen watershed in Boulder, Larimer and El Paso counties as our Bermuda Triangle.
That place in the Bahamas caught my attention in the 1970s when I was a kid because of how many aircraft and vessels vanished in the waters.
Carl, my 7-year-old, brought me back to that sense of people and property slipping off the radar as we drove home through torrential rains from a dental appointment I foolishly kept for him on Thursday — the day cities in Boulder County declared a state of emergency.
"Where do the prairie dogs go, Mom?" he asked, gazing out the rain-streaked rear car window.
Boulder Creek jumped its banks near our home and flooded a nearby pasture usually teeming with these critters that live in a maze of burrows.
After the flood, Carl asked the same question of the honeybees that once lived in refrigerator-white hives by the prairie dog colony. Flood mud splattered them brown.
"I don't know, Carl," I later said. "I don't know where prairie dogs or honeybees go during a flood."
Of course, the outstanding human headcount haunted us most.
For days, we knew not where some folks were in the midst of this water with teeth, water that chewed through concrete roads and spit out the spikes from hundreds of railroad ties that once anchored steel tracks.
An acquaintance of mine lives in a draw immediately southwest of Lyons, a hard-hit town. As part of her Mormon faith, she stockpiles a year's worth of homemade canned goods — everything from peaches to pork — in her root cellar.
Now, so many days post-flood, I can assume rightly that she survived.
But it messes with me that all of that food and any commercially canned food exposed to flood water must be marked and sent to the landfill — that the outside makes perfectly good food inside untouchable.
Floodwater carries bacteria not easily scrubbed off, especially on the curved seam where a can opener tracks.
Another family I do not know lives in an old house by Boulder Creek along Lookout Road in Erie. On that first flood day, they moved their stuff — their oven, dressers, mattresses and more — to the swampy front lawn.
When I spotted this, I expected to see someone dash out with a tarp.
Instead, the appliances and furnishings sat in the downpour — a couch with end tables and a lamp set upright with its shade straightened — as some sign of bust that other Coloradans felt here in the dusty 1930s, when nothing more could be done, and they knew it.
For three days it felt like our Bermuda Triangle with my cellphone beeping four to six times, morning to night, with text-messaged alerts of flood danger; with Boulder's KBCO interrupting its rock music playlist to broadcast computer-generated messages such as "Turn around. Don't drown. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles;" and the Boulder County Sheriff's Office withholding names on its missing persons list to prevent would-be citizen rescuers from adding to that number.
But this flood came with an equally powerful and mysterious undertow of generosity and goodwill that gathered itself and surfaced again and again.
All over town it looked like families were hosting graduation parties or reunions for how many people parked their vehicles around flooded homes to rip up waterlogged carpet and shovel sludge.
Other volunteers washed laundry for those sheltering at evacuation centers in Longmont. Many dropped off board games along with diapers and cereal.
Still more tapped their calculators to work out what to cut from already tight weekly budgets to give.
At some point, organizers at Longmont's LifeBridge Christian Church, which sheltered hundreds of people, announced: "No more bread, please."
Our cup overflows.