Fire in the Heart
Tree Burning During Salmon Creek Fire
Brilliant yellow leaves, so saturated in sunlight that they bow–heavy with golden weight, and meadow grasses wet with the first rains, complete each other like puzzle pieces in the land around our cabin. But stories from Southern California remind me how fragile, how ephemeral this beauty is. We could have lost it all in the Canoe fire that threatened our home–our heart– in 2003.
A lightening strike started the fire and soon the lines were only about a mile and a half from our house. Then the blaze broke through. It came rolling towards us. A friend called Mom from where she was working on the burning hills. The fires had overrun her group of about a hundred fighters. They had to hunker down until it passed over. No one was hurt but they were surrounded by flames. She could see our house and warned us to be ready to leave soon. I packed my still nursing one year old into a car with his grandmother and with them went a load of photo albums, yearbooks, and tax records.
We decided to stay and fight. My husband and oldest sons gathered down at the pond, setting up a pump and a hose. We could hear the roar of the inferno across from us. As I watched the mountain pour flames towards the creek below, I answered the phones. People just up the road were calling frantically trying to determine whether they needed to leave. I couldn’t pack anymore because the calls were rolling in on top of each other. Finally, the flames (and the calls) slowed and I huddled inside away from the choking smoke. I remember sending out an email, “The computer tower will be one of the last things I pack. If the wind doesn’t pick up, we’ll make it through the night. Thinking of you all. Send good thoughts.”
So today, I’m passing on your ‘good thoughts.’ Please take a moment and open your heart to the people losing their homes.