We have been blessed.
We have been untouched by smoke and fire, and now there is rain. Sweet, sweet rain. The smoke and plume that passed through lower ground is being replaced by afternoon sprinkles. The sky clears. The earth heals.
Our wonderful county, our beloved country, all those who worked so hard and risked their lives, we thank you. You have been amazing. Over a hundred thousand acres, and not one house or cabin lost. We are so proud of you, so proud to be here.
We at Lost Trail Ranch have remained untouched by these frightening fires. The only scars we see are in the silence of this time when there should be children running in the damp grass, laughter in the woods, singing up the trails, and tight lines along the river.
In this silence, we are reminded of why we are here, these cabins built, Bob’s major renovations, Gin’s meticulous cleaning. This is not for us. This is for you.
We await your return to your little bit of paradise. Come share in the celebration of life.
Know too that life is ever changing.
What we knew yesterday is no longer. Today is something new.
And sometimes, to change, the past must die.
Now is a time of cleansing.
Tomorrow is rebirth.
I stand in the middle of time and worlds and shed tears for what I knew and have shivers of anticipation for what I will see tomorrow. And no time, I see, is more rich than here and now.
I mourn for the mountain I already saw die, and now see strength in this purging, beauty in knowing what will come. The great mystery. Do more than open my eyes to watch. Be alive within it. Be a part of the rebirth as we are a part of the death
These words I write to Ginny and she tells me I should share: “I feel the mountain, and feel the burning is cleansing, she rids herself of the century of suppression (the Forest Service policy for over 90 years of putting out wildfires) and the beetles which have taken advantage of the situation and have ravaged. That for me was harder. That is when the trees died. This is in a way a release. Caused by the skies. She heals herself. All we need to do is get out of Her way.”
What do we do now? Where do we go from here? What have we learned, and how will we handle the rest of the trees that will burn?
And then what, we are wise to ask? Because there will be more. And I’m not going to forget. Brush it all under the carpet and call it quits and just be glad it wasn’t my part of the mountain that burned, because next time if could be.
I want to be positive, encouraging, build back my business that continue to be closed, but I also need to realistic. Responsible. And what matters more? The income I have lost and continued to lose? Or the mountain, mine, yours, the one that will be here for my grand children and their children that I hope will be here long after you and I are gone. That is our job. Mine and yours.
We are lucky to not have to rebuild. We do not even have to clean up. We just swallow the loss and deal with the debt, open our doors when the road opens and hope people come, carefully. That part is actually easy.
What about the rest? Our neighbors down mountain with a charred back yard. The river, the fish, down river for how many miles. The rest of these trees dead standing. The long term effects, including, as one friend brings up, the impact on our air. What could be more basic?
At times I’d like to turn a blind eye. Out of sight, out of mind. Wouldn’t that be easy. Today we’re fine. Who cares about tomorrow?
Only I can’t. Never could. And I don’t plan on starting now.
It has been an interesting few weeks. Holding out, holding up. Remaining in the evacuation zone. Trying to go on with life, maintain your balance, but life is turned upside down and staying upright isn’t so easy.
We stayed here because this is our home, and they knew that, and I shall always thank them for letting us remain. Understanding. We fought to be here before. We can fight for it again.
What would it have cost us if we left? We are already losing too much. But its money, only money. Look what we do have, what matters most. Home. Each other. That’s the biggie. No money in the world could buy me better.
Day before yesterday, the boys head to town for the first time since well before the closed road. I’m about out of wine, the silly little loaner hens haven’t been keeping up, and those darned squirrels are eating more of my lettuce, chard and kale than I can grow.
Our world is slowly opening. A summer homer is hanging out somewhere up here and the cowboys are hard at work gathering cows that have been scattered for miles with open fences and closed roads.
We’ve managed just fine. And not alone. The community, though far away, at times seem close. Among the many thank yous that I would like to say: Greg for his compassion (not to mention hard work), Eryn for her generosity, Sammy and Clint for their offers to help (and believe me, you both were part of the plan if push came to shove), Camille & Melvin, Betty & Jack – for helping feed us, and the Swansons for being the neighbors if you could choose you would choose, and lucky us, we can. The county, our commissioners and sheriff’s department and firefighters and EMTs. The brave and skilled crews that came from far away. All of you who have written, shared your stories, reached out, touched in words and yes, that does mean a lot to me. Karen… for more than I can put in a post… And my boys. Always my boys. Because sappy as this sounds, they are the sunshine in the smokiest of days.
To all those family and friends that have cared, shared, reached out, expressed, thought about the future more than just holding onto the past.
We will get through this. You know it. We will look back and say, “Remember that year with the terrible fire?” Only I know it’s not over. Maybe now, for this year, this time. But not in the big pictured, the long run.
Sherie writes, “…Make your witnessing loud & vocal… Draw the line on the map… Do it, Gin, use your ammo.”
Wise and challenging words. Thank you. This is what I need. To see the big picture. When it’s too easy to focus on me, mine, here, now, and a little business in a big forest.
I’m between a rock and a hard place. Support and encourage my business, or work for the mountain, the trees, the birds and fish and flowers, moss and air.
I feel I must. I am obliged. How can I say I care so much but be willing to do nothing? As I would fight for the life of my child, so I feel I must for the mountains, the Earth.
Ultimately, I must choose the greater good.
In the deepest darkness
A view from the charred hillside where a forest once stood
Green grass begins to grow.
Not what she was yesterday
now free to fly with great bright wings
Finding beauty in a broken world. *
*From the book of that title by Terry Tempest Williams.