Diary of a wildfire
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Since I will have extra time on my hands with much to talk about, it might be interesting to write a diary about this experience. I hesitate to call myself a victim of this wildfire because, as of yet, I've only lost a bit of sleep, a few days from work, and the ability to enjoy the outdoors or venture far from home. Those are small prices to pay for the privilege of still being able to stay home, something that over 11,000 other people living in the neighboring towns would love to have the ability to do.
I have a habit of always countering my negative thoughts with an "it could be worse" thought. I'm not sure if I got that from my mom's "oh my God, it must be cancer" attitude or whether it's all the other experiences of my life.
I worked in the court system for years, where I heard my fair share of horror stories. I listened to a rape victim recount the experience of being raped in her bedroom by intruders with her three-year-old locked in the closet. I heard many a civil case, stories in which people had been seriously injured, changing their lives forever. As anyone who recently watched the Johnny Depp case might understand, listening to the testimony in a court case is like watching a movie unfold. You hear every last detail.
And then there were the years I spent in Ron's group (chapter titled Endings and Beginnings in Tales of a Wayward Yogini) listening to gut-wrenching stories. There was a young woman who, at 17, found her brother after he had shot himself in the head, a rape victim waking up to a man standing over her (her husband was out of town), a man whose father killed his pet animals in front of him when he was a child, for fun, and a young man who watched his best friend die in a biking accident—these are just a smattering of the stories I listened to, either crying inwardly or, most times, outwardly. In court, I had to maintain, but in the group, all bets were off. I was crying.
In a recent post, I wrote about helping my ex-husband's aunt write her Holocaust memoirs.
Maybe it's no surprise that I can always think of that "something worse" that could happen. My saving grace is that in most of these stories, I could watch these people heal or understand that they had survived the horror and moved on to live a full life. Instead of hanging on to the negative, I have taken away the positive of their stories. When something worse pops into my mind, the thought only remains long enough to remind me of all I have to appreciate.
With my background established, let's get started.
The Mosquito fire began on Tuesday, September 6th, which I wrote about in my last post. By Wednesday mid-day, we had received an evacuation warning. The plume reaching toward the heavens was warning enough, but I still appreciated the excellent system/teams in place to inform residents as all chaos breaks loose in the event of a wildfire.
We have three amazing apps we are using, yubanet.com, Watchduty.org, and Flightradar24.com. The first two apps provide fire updates. The third shows all the planes/helicopters moving throughout the skies worldwide. It's crazy the information that we have at our fingertips. We watch the air attack in real-time. The helicopters look like tiny ants on the screen dancing around the fire zone. We can see the air tankers, know where they come from, and where they are headed, to the degree that Rick will say to me, "the DC10 will be flying overhead in about a minute." And it does.
After receiving the evacuation warning, my mind began to race. Since it was only a notice and not an order (a notice means your area may be next, so get ready), I had the wherewithal to give my senses what I needed at that moment— a few minutes to iron some clothes.
Yes, you read that right. Housework soothes me. Off to the sewing room I went to where my ironing board lives. Rick was looking at me sideways, really? Yep, honey, I need a few minutes to get my clothes in order to pack; French for "I just need a few minutes to myself."
Since he knew we likely would not be asked to leave for hours and maybe not even days, hopefully never, he smiled and let me be. I like many things about aging, one of which is knowing what I need and finally being strong enough to be my own best advocate.
I typically like to put on one of my favorite programs or movies while I iron, but this day I needed to talk to and listen only to my heart. With each ironed article of clothing, I calmed my senses just a bit. And within thirty minutes, I had a stack of ironed clothes to pack and the calmness to tackle the project.
Rick is nothing if not the voice of reason in stressful situations. He has a no-nonsense, unemotional approach to the task at hand, which is a perfect match for an over-emotional Scorpio. He's also been in the hardware business his whole life, so he knows a thing or two about how to pack/unpack/stage, etc. He leads me to the kitchen without any drama, "Okay, honey, what needs to come with us from this room?"
"That painting, that little picture on the wall from your parents’ place at Northstar, and that wall hanging Sammie gave you with your mom's recipe on it. Oh, and your mom's cookbook! Julie's jam pot. The little spoons Jordan carved for us. The ceramic hearts by the sink that Amy gave me."
We moved through the next room and the next with little discussion, no tears, mostly my finger pointing at whatever needed to make its way into our cars. The process took less than five minutes, a byproduct of having done this drill before. Not much had changed on my list of what's most important. As in our last evacuation, it wasn't lost on me that regardless of how sad it might be to say goodbye to many of our things, I wasn't in Nazi Germany choosing which one of my two children would board the train without me.
We completed our list, and afterward, I made a quick trip to our Cool market for a few items. I turned my music up and cried into town and back. The tears were an excellent release, the kind of crying that feels good. There are two types of crying; I was thankful to only be releasing soothing tears. Once back home, I parked my tears with my car in the garage and joined Rick in packing our belongings into our two vehicles.
I had to laugh at myself, the random dialogue in my mind.
"I can't forget XY and Z. I should have picked up some Ginger ale at the store. It's okay; get a glass of water. It's better for you.
"When I return to work at Crate & Barrel, I need to get one of those garlic peelers. I need to wrap the artwork in blankets. Rick's already got the computers and the little lockbox. The closet is done. I sure wish I had some Ginger ale. Never mind.
"Bathrooms are done. Don't forget to remove the old photo albums from the guest closet. Grab that cute little blue pig Peter gave us. Rick wants his grandfather's clock.
"Honey, I should have gotten some Ginger ale when I went to the market."
Five minutes later, Rick was on his way to the store.
Since I was a young girl, Seven-Up or Ginger ale was my cure for whatever ailed me. Some people suffer from headaches; I'm a stomach gal.
Once Rick returned home with my Ginger ale fix, I poured myself a tall glass with ice, and we completed our task of packing what mattered most. The house looked as if it had been ransacked, but there would be time for that later, God willing.
We crawled into bed at the end of the day, uncomfortable but grateful to still be in our bed, sending our prayers toward the heavens; please let tomorrow bring better news.