Burned

DSC_0789Looking at the weather forecast yesterday, I saw not one, not two or even three, but six–yes, six–rain cloud pictures in a row.

My heart went all pittery-pattery–it’s own happy little rain dance.

What can I say?  I crave sunshine as well as the next vitamin D-deficient western Washingtonian, but it’s been a long summer.  A surreal summer.  A summer that brought us June tomatoes (what!?), plus our very first cantaloupe (softball-sized, but still).  A summer of drought and record-breaking heat; of parched grass, premature leaf-fall, and devastating wildfires.

Wildfire.  We’ve lived in this region for over thirty years and until this summer I always believed wildfires were something that almost always happened over “there,” meaning the eastern side of the mountains.  Sure, we might have a few highway brush fires or some smoke haze drifting over to mar our mountain views, but nothing too threatening.  This is–was?–the soggy part of the the Evergreen State, after all.  A mossy, emerald place where the slugs and the Canada geese roam.  Then came an August day of raining ash, eerie gilded sunlight, and thickening smoke from a brush fire on our side of the mountains.  Not really all that far away, in fact. Then an entire weekend of murky light and smoke not only messing with the scenic views, but with our lungs and throats as well.  And then, on a drive up to Mount Rainier this week, more smoke swirling into the sky.  A real, honest-to-God forest fire.

And all of this scary stuff nothing compared to the wildfire horrors our eastern neighbors have experienced.

This is the summer I learned that if things get hot enough, dry enough–as will increasingly be the case in our area due to climate change–wildfires can happen anywhere.  Even in a rain forest.  Even here.  This is the summer I walked in our woodlot, bone dry sticks snapping and leaves crackling even in the winter-swamp areas, and felt afraid that this farm I loved might burn.  And this is the summer when–feverishly piling yet another load of dry fire fuel into our truck to haul to the composting facility–I realized that I’ve been in denial, too.  Yeah, I knew the global warming threat was real and all that; I just never thought, deep down inside, I’d live long enough to be impacted by it in any significant way.

I guess it’s time to adapt.

For information on ways to protect your home and property from wildfire, check out the following site: http://www.readyforwildfire.org/defensible_space/

Have you taken any steps to protect your home from wildfire?

Thanks for reading!

Cherie

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4 comments

  1. Cherie, I am so sorry for you guys out there!!! Having lived for a long time in Southern California, I am quite familiar with the threat of wildfire and still worry about my friends in the region. Please be careful–it sounds like you are taking precautions and, most importantly, taking it seriously. I don’t know how El Nino might affect you guys up there (if it happens). I know in SoCal they are hoping for a good drenching. How are you managing with the animals in this drought?

    1. Thanks for your nice words, Lori. We did get a bunch of rain last night, which was wonderful! Our animals have done fine with plenty of shade and water (the ducks enjoy it if I mist them with a hose on hot days; everybody else hates it!). And I’ve tried to conserve water by using the animals’ dirty drinking or pool water to water plants 🙂

  2. awritersalchemy · · Reply

    So glad you shared this. I’m really happy to hear the rain on my roof this morning and hoping it helps with these terrible fires. You’ll like this poem, which Austen featured yesterday: http://wapoetlaureate.org/2015/08/28/endless-summer-by-kelli-russell-agodon/

    1. I was thrilled to hear the rain, too, though not so happy about the wind! Thanks so much for passing along the poem–it’s so lovely, sad, and true! In July when we went backpacking near Chinook Pass, we discovered some irresponsible campers had lit a fire (fires were banned) and had not only left without putting it completely out, but piled all of the extra wood on it! Unbelievable.

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