Monday, August 24, 2015

life under evacuation order

In the middle of the night, I start to get scared.

The wind has been blowing steadily through the trees. What direction is it coming from? I don't know. If it's a north wind, it will blow the fire into the rocks or deeper into the wilderness. If it is south, disaster. 

I get up and start packing my husband's things. What would he want me to save? He calls from the fire he is on. Pictures of his parents, the computer, the skis. Surely he wants more than that? I feel burdened by responsibility. Will the dogs even load up? Where will I put the cat? He and Puffin don't like each other. Could I board him? He purrs happily, glad to have someone there.

I hear engines going up the road. It's midnight, why are they going up there? The fire department has put a pump in the river and stretched a hose to our property but nobody is there, it's the middle of the night. The dogs pace. They can tell something is going on.

I remember on the PCT when Flash's husband got a call to evacuate. A long time resident and seasoned to fire, he walked outside, looked around. "&%* it," he said, and went back to bed. So I got back to bed too. 

I have a new job, sitting by a radio in the Rodeo Grounds. The building is cavernous and flies swarm all over. It's the Rodeo Grounds after all, what do I expect? A couple of lonely Logistics and Plans people sit far from me, filling orders. It's good it's slow. I want it to be slow. Someone brings in mint chip cookies. A few people check in, but most orders are unfilled. We have, quite simply, run out of firefighters.

I raid the office supply kit. Pens! Calculators! White-out! I organize all of my supplies. I never thought I would be a Camp Slug, as we used to call these people who sit at desks, as we headed out to the line. Now I see how condescending and superior we all were. I'm glad I'm not out there breathing all this smoke and digging fireline. It's not because I am old; it's because I've done it, and I don't need to do it anymore.

Even if I had time to hike, I wouldn't want to. The mountains are wreathed in smoke, too dangerous to breathe. We've been cheated out of a summer, but it's hard to complain when people are losing houses and their lives.

I know, I think. I'll plan a winter hiking trip, a reprise of our Grand Canyon RTRTR. Buff and TC are up for it. We will cast a net for a few others. I can't hike now, but by then, in the dark basement of winter, the fires will be out. This makes me happy.


  1. What a lot of stress, from one extreme to another. I hope the winds stay away and you won't have to pack up animals and important personal things from the house. Think of you and J and L often.

  2. Rodeo grounds....saw the rodeo there in 2006, so can picture! Difficult days, in Hurricane Creek, Grizzly Bear Complex and so many others. Sure J. is relieved you are there. Small question: If they lay a hose from the creek to your house, don't the fire engines roll over it every time they go by? Safe thoughts to you, J. 3 dogs, 3 cats and homes.

  3. I most definitely do not roll my eyes when you say it's smoky. :) We're pretty much surrounded by fires here so the mountain trails are either officially closed or so smoky that I don't want to go. We've had a couple days of west winds (straight off the ocean) so that has helped clear the smoke out here.

    Fingers crossed for your north winds.


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