If you’ve followed this blog you’ve probably noticed a long dry spell. There have been so many things over the past months that have silenced words. Family stress, challenges around writing, unexpected deaths and expected deaths with family and friends, and a parched land and forest fire. So many burdens. So much weight to bear us down.
When the forest fire came, it came with a roar like nothing I’ve heard. And remember, we were on a fire department. We’ve fought fires. But this was wild and insane and consuming and starving for fuel. And the forest was dry and vulnerable. It came with a pounding on the door, with the words to get out now. My husband said later it was like the sound of thousands of propane torches magnified beyond count.
Luckily we had an evacuation list on our fridge. It was broken down by time. If you have fifteen minutes, grab this. If you have thirty minutes, grab all that plus this. We had the cars loaded and were out, gone, away down the highway with camping gear and essentials. Like the old dog happy to have a car ride and angry cat not so happy with a car ride.
Fire crews were right there. They built a firebreak around our homes and saved them. We were able to come back after a week even though the fire still burned, and still burns. The mountain that shelters our community is now covered in burned trees. We will never see tall evergreens there again in our lifetime.
But our house still stands. And as two friends reminded me, life will return where the fire has burned. There are birds that only come to burned areas, like the Olive-sided flycatcher. There are plants that only grow in burned land. There are saplings that will come up through the ash.
This weekend the rain came back. I saw the mist and the coolness and the water dripping from the trees that still live. I felt it in my hair and on my clothes. I could breathe in smoke-free air with the scent of damp earth. And I felt the roots deep inside me stir, the parched leaves tentatively open into weak words. But still, words. I need the rain like the land does, like the trees do, like the fire does not.
This is a poem by S.C. Lourie:
‘I started calling that girl back./The girl who loved living, the girl who danced instead of walking./The girl who had sunflowers for eyes and fireworks in her soul./I started playing music again, hoping she would come out./I started looking for beautiful moments to experience, so she would feel safe enough to show herself, because I knew she was in there./And she needed my kindness and my effort to come to the surface again.’
She’s not showing herself yet, but she’s stirring, maybe unfurling, maybe just breathing in the healing rain.