(Photo by Andreas Fuhrmann / Record Searchlight: The Motion Fire makes its way west towards Whiskey Creek on Friday night)
Let me start by saying, "I'M fine." Really, I am. Although I'm a little -- no, a lot -- stressed out about my impending vacation, which is currently at T minus 20 hours and counting. And I have bloodshot eyes and a sore lower back and a couple of mosquito bites. But no -- I'M fine.
But I've been a tad worried about some folks I know who were not fine, but who are fine now. I couldn't write one thing about them until I knew all was well, and now I know, so I'm telling you.
You may have heard something about the fires in California, yes? With a few notable exceptions (like the evacuated towns of Junction City and a very remote mountain town near Hayfork that this life-long resident has never even heard of and, *ahem*, can't spell), things are much, much better than the last time I talked about the fires. The smoke is mostly gone here in the Great North Valley, although that can change with a wind shift. Foothill and mountain people who were evacuated are getting back to normal and cleaning up.
My cousin and his wife are getting back to normal.
They were caught by the Moon fire, which devastated the rolling hill country of Ono and Igo. John and Juanita left just in time, following out the firemen, who raced down the rutted, bumpy gravel road at 35 miles and hour, chased by a wall of flames. The land they've been clearing for a few years as they prepare to build their dream home glowed orange in their rearview mirror as they escaped. Escaped. Cinders as big as their heads fell near the fifth-wheel trailer they called home. There was no way the home made it, Juanita said. How could they build there now, on blackened land?
Except that the trailer DID make it, and their new tractor, too. They lost two sheds full of items collected for their future house: two toilets, which exploded; a riding mower and a four-wheeler; a washer and dryer, which melted; and a new wood stove, which you'd think would have been okay, but there's a lot of stuff on a wood stove that isn't made of iron. Also, their milk turned in the fridge. Still, their loss was small, considering. They are alive.
And my friend who works in the media -- I'll call him Frank, so I don't get him in trouble -- actually got himself into an evacuated area by tagging along on a press pass. He went straight to his good friend's evacuated home, called the worried friend on his cell, and said, "I'm at your house. What do you want me to save?" Frank proceeded to load up his vehicle with his friend's important possessions (they had been away when the evacuation order came down, and couldn't get in to save anything). He turned out the horses and the chickens into big fields with low fences, giving the animals their best chance at survival. He loaded up four dogs and two cats, and he soaked the deck and put a sprinkler on the roof. Cinders were falling; it was time to leave.
The house, all the possessions, and the animals were all survivors. Still, Frank is my new hero.
And the most pressing thing clamping my heart last week . . . my boss's wife, Deni, had a closer-than-necessary encounter with Nature.
As she fed her neighbor's horses in the fading evening light, Deni felt a sharp jab to the top of her sandaled foot. She looked down and saw two holes, seeping blood, and then she heard the rattle.
Dumping her wheel barrow on top of the silhouette of a coiled rattle snake, Deni weighed her options. Lie down here and she would risk that her husband would figure she was just out late, chatting with a neighbor. Walk back to the house and she would hurry the poison through her system.
To shorten a story that is harrowing and not really mine to tell, Deni made it to the hospital, though she couldn't wait for the ambulance. It was a long 48 hours with only vague information leaking out, but after two days we finally got the news that she was out of the woods. The holes made by the snake's fangs were an inch and a half apart. Big-ass snake.
Okay, sorry to unload on you, but these are things that have been crowding my head and heart for a while, and complaining about smoke felt quite callous. I've been terrifically silly here lately, partly as a defense mechanism; no one needs me to wallow in seriousness more than I'm doing right now.
Oh, and if you'd like some good news? This cute little bear, no bigger than a human infant at 8 1/2 to 15 pounds (depending upon which source you believe), was rescued Thursday from the Moon Fire, which may have killed its mother.
(Photos stolen from these guys)
The poor little guy has four burned paws and wouldn't have made it much longer, but a CalFire worker found him and saved his life. Everyone is pulling for Smokey Jr., and the poor firefighter is undergoing rabies shots because of possible rabies exposure. Still, it's a sign of hope, and the cub is expected to be released into the wild next year.
So in case you were wondering, I'M fine, which is a saying we use here in the Foolery household when the world is coming down around us. I think the world is done for a while. And with that, I am now purged of my seriousness, and will be back with the silly soon! As soon as I get a vacation to the Southlands under my belt. Not sure I'll be able to blog until we get home, Sunday night, but if I can I will, I promise. Cheers to all of you, and have a great week!
Your Bloggywood Friend,