I had big plans for this blog and this summer~ I was going to share travel posts galore, albeit some recycled from travels past, it was still going to be a theme of adventuring with your kids, and enjoying the journey.
But, I’ll have to write about those things another day, because today my mind and spirit just needs to breathe and process.
I won’t be taking too deep of literal breaths though, because the normally blue skies and fresh air of Northern California are currently brown and orange and constricting my asthmatic lungs.
I was in Denver when the fire started burning up the shoreline of the lake near my hometown~ 1200 miles away from home and my return flight was days away.
My heart hurt to hear the trees that shade the beautiful places that making living here tolerable in the summer were being blackened, but there was nothing I could do.
I was physically far from the flames~ but emotionally so near to the mess at the same time~ it was burning up the lakes and mountains where my kids grew up, where my family plays, the places we treasure and love. Our home town.
The fire grew miles every day, hot and fast and humongous. It didn’t stay in the forest, like you might think wildfires are supposed to~ It raged its way into town, crossing concrete and roads and roaring through neighborhoods and subdivisions where this kind of thing doesn’t happen.
But, it does. And it did. It came through burning and exploding and randomly picking which homes would stand and which would be ash.
We started getting word of people losing their homes~ but they weren’t just people you see on the news. These were people we knew in real life, friends, people who had taught my kid or worked with me, or sat in a women’s circle~ and they were all suddenly homeless.
Homes that my kids had played hours of games in and we shared dreams and plans in were all destroyed.
My own home wasn’t in the path of the fire, but as it grew and moved wildly, no one really seemed to know what would be burning next.
My Girl Child was home at the time, with our pets. She packed a fire box, grabbed important documents and some photos, the pet food and leashes and was ready to go if need be. Thankfully, she is a smart and logical one, but that’s still a lot of pressure for a kid.
As I was on my train to the airport, the news starting get worse~ the fire was growing and moving towards us.
I’m not normally a weepy person, but everything I was seeing made me want to break down.
The lines to get through airport security were huge, hot and crowded, and I’m glad I had the forethought to not look at news while in them. My anxiety was bad enough without seeing more of the endless images of flames and destruction.
I knew our little town had made national news when I heard other people at the airport looking at their phones and talking about the tragic fires in Northern California. I resisted the urge to grab them and shout “That’s My Home!”
My flight was delayed, and I made the mistake of looking at my own phone. Everything I saw was awful.
I didn’t cross the line into public wailing, but I did make a few random people regret asking “How are you today?” by responding with an intense teary eyed stare and saying “My hometown is on fire. Everything beautiful is burning up right now.”
By the time we got on the plane, put devices in airport mode, flew to California and landed, things seemed to be improving. Or maybe I had just had a chance to calm down.
I was still a 5 hour drive from home, but I was at least in the same state. The relief was short lived as the news started showing the fire gaining ground and moving closer to our home, and I began to see panicked messages on social media about evacuations getting too close for comfort.
I needed to be with my kid and my pets and to deal with whatever came our way and to see where we could help in the meantime.
Finally, finally, finally, I walked in my own door. It was such a relief to finally get home, to have a home.
In retrospect, I realized that some of the panicked posts on social media were misunderstandings, and while that was annoying, we were safe.
There’s an ongoing sadness as we hear more and more stories of loss, as we’re bombarded with a continual slideshow of pictures of fire, posts about fire, loss, recovery after the fire, donations for the fire, so much burning, burning, burning~ overwhelming destruction, smoke, ash.
I began to feel so weary and overwhelmed, rotating between grief and gratitude, the damage was so massive, but the support and love in the community was equally gigantic.
This rollercoaster has started to take its’ toll, and I’ve begun to feel like a bit of a wimp for being overwhelmed by fire when I’m safe, my family and my home and my pets are safe.
And so many people aren’t.
But I can feel in my bones that I need to take breaks from the intensity of this fire.
I don’t mean taking breaks from helping. Washing dirty linens and walking dogs at the evacuated pet shelter is tiring and sad and smells awful, but it is helping, and that I can do.
What I can’t do is to keep scrolling through my social media barrage of the same awful images and stories over and over to the point where I can feel my nerve endings constrict as soon as I open the apps on my phone.
So, I took a day off social media altogether and I could feel a positive difference by noon. Clearly, some ongoing boundaries are in order for my sanity.
For now, I’ve rambled long enough. There’s still work to be done.
The fires are still burning. Lots of people are getting to go back to their homes but at least 1000 families don’t have homes to go to. And other homes in nearby communities are still in the path as the fire rages on.
People are trying to get back to normal life, but it still feels a little surreal. And no matter how much we try, we all know it’s not over till it’s over.
I hope to be back to writing about cheerier things soon, but I never really know what’s going come out until I start typing.
For now, hug your people and your pets, and if you’re prone to sending out prayers or positive thoughts, the people of nor cal could sure use them. And if you need a break yourself, please take one.
Writer, Artist, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, FunSchooling Facilitator / Former Goat-Herding HeadMistress for our Mostly Happy Homeschool, Semi-Crazy Chicken Lady and Mamacita Extraordinaire to a couple of Cage Free Kids.