Planting their field again
It was moving day Friday for Troy Gordon and his wife, Michel Field. But there wasn’t a moving van in sight. That’s because Gordon and Field lost everything they owned when their West Glenwood house burned to the ground June 8 in the Coal Seam Fire. Gordon was out of town the day of the fire, and Field had just enough time to grab the couple’s two dogs and her car keys before leaving her house and everything she owned forever. So Friday morning, instead, a giant American Furniture Warehouse truck pulled up to the couple’s rebuilt home, and backed up onto the new concrete driveway. “My furniture!” said Field with a smile when she opened her front door and saw the two furniture deliverymen standing on her porch.Typically, the two men might unload a bed or a couch to new owners. But in this case, the workers were virtually unloading an entire house. The men grunted and groaned while moving couches, chairs, a dining room table, a curio, full bedroom sets, end tables and more, while Gordon and Field helped figure out where everything was going to go.
Field said a few weeks before the fire took their house, something strange happened.”We were on our way to Grand Junction, and we noticed a house on fire near Debeque right before the canyon,” she said. “I remember seeing it and saying to my sister, `How horrible. Can you imagine a fire burning down your house?’ Then, just two weeks later, it happened to us.”Gordon and Field still have the same address at Highway 6 &24 as they did before the Coal Seam Fire. Amazingly enough, the couple’s old metal mailbox, stationed 100 yards away from their home, withstood the fire. But everything else to do with the house is brand-spanking new, from the forks in the kitchen drawers to the carpeting on the floor. In fact, the kitchen drawers are new. So is every single thing in and around the house. Since the couple lost cherished family antiques in the fire, Field made a point of finding a few old pieces, including a couple of dressers and a cabinet, to incorporate into the new house.”They aren’t from our family, but I like having them around,” she said. After the fire took their home and all their belongings, the couple decided to rebuild in the exact same spot their old house sat. The couple’s new green house, clearly visible from Interstate 70, sits where Gordon’s ancestors harvested fruit trees.”We decided to build the new house here,” said Gordon, an insurance adjuster with McMillan Claims Service in Glenwood. “Except for college, I’ve lived on this land all my life.”Gordon’s mother, Janice George, and her husband, Jim George, also lost their house, which was just above Gordon’s and Field’s. They are rebuilding, keeping the family compound intact. The work started from the ground up. “The fire baked the foundation so badly that it had turned to chalk,” said Gordon. “And at those temperatures, steel loses its integrity. So we had to start at the foundation.”Gary and Matt Heisel were the building contractors.”They’ve been incredible to us,” Field said.Gordon and Field used almost the exact same floor plan as the old house, but with a few improvements.”The house we replaced had been a modular,” Field said. “Troy was only 25 and I was only 22 when we built that house, so we had to scrimp and cut corners. But now, we could do some improvements.”Those improvements include building a stick-built house that’s a foot or two bigger. The downstairs is finished and the bathrooms and kitchen have tile floors. “I love this new house,” Field said. “It’s prettier than our old house. But I’d give it all up in a heartbeat to get our old stuff and our old house back.”
Looking around her house, Field had a message for anyone who dreams of going on an unlimited shopping spree.”It’s been completely exhausting,” she said. “Troy and I have gone on a lot of shopping trips down to Grand Junction. We’ll both get a shopping cart and go up and down the aisles, filling up with everything from toilet paper to towels, and everything in-between. Do you know how hard it is to pick out everything you need for your life? You start from scratch.”And items treasured through the years – baby photos, diplomas, family heirlooms – can’t be found at the nearest Target or Sam’s Club.”There were things like our graduation caps, a Teddy bear I’ve had since I was 2 years old, and a ’56 Chevy that we’d just finished restoring that we miss,” she said. “Troy had some furniture from his grandmother, and I had some jewelry from mine. That’s all gone.”But good has come from the ashes too. Gordon and Field got married at the Hotel Colorado this fall, and the couple is planning their first party at their new house on New Year’s Eve. “And next summer, we’re having a Coal Seam Barbecue!” Field said with a laugh. Chances are it will be on June 8.
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Grace Wesseling is an animal lover, a cheerleader of seven years and another soon-to-be graduate of Bridges High School, class of 2021.