"IN THREE WORDS I CAN SUM UP
EVERYTHING I'VE LEARNED
ABOUT LIFE: IT GOES ON."
It was quite a week leading up to my birthday. Easter Week was a week in our community that brought a lot of worry, heart break, and terror. The day that the fire moved into Barber County was probably one of the spookiest afternoons I can remember. That day, Wednesday, I went to my aunts auction where she sold the farm equipment and officially is now retired from farming. Not many can say they farmed into their 80's after being widowed. But then, she is tough as a boot.
One the way home when we drove through Spivey there was a haze of smoke. There was no question where it was coming from. We were back into scanner range of home and the fire was still completely out of control (Anderson Creek Fire, for those who did not know). The closer to home we were the heavier the smoke became. Once home the sun was a big orange ball just coming through the smoke. Once home it became so dark it was like deep dusk.
Friends, acquaintances, and those we did not know lost homes, buildings, livestock but thankfully no lives. Frankly I was not even thinking of my upcoming birthday. Since I turned 61 I don't really look at the day as particularly fun anyway.
We were thinking what would we grab and run if the fire jumped the highway and creek two miles away from us and headed our way. It is grassland all the way. Since I live in a sea of grass and have a bit of experience with fire we always try to keep things around the buildings short, even out into the pasture, and non-combustibles from the yard. We do have metal roofs but with log siding we are still vulnerable to fast moving flames. We did not get the hoses hooked up because they were able to keep the fire out of our area and we had a new pressure tank coming the next day and was not sure the old one would hold up to the hoses running.
The stories of all the losses were and are heart wrenching. The toll on our emergency workers has to be severe. Many are not spring chickens anymore. The equipment is not pristine and new for the fire department either. We are in a county with low population and strained resources, especially when the oil economy is way down.
Then there are the droves of people and offers for assistance coming from all over. The offers are still coming and it is almost overwhelming the generosity of people. It takes time to sort it all out.
I have not had the chance to visit with the people who were in the EOC throughout the fire on 12 hour shifts. I have not had a chance to visit with the firefighters about all the experiences and the frustrations that they had, and have. Right now they are working on broken down equipment and don't have time.
I have tried to keep everyone posted on the status of things as I see and hear up here on the hill. I can put a bit more feeling into them than the 'official' reports.
So as my birthday dawned, and my facebook happy birthday wishes go crazy, it is a bit anti climatic. I am not crazy about getting older. I wish that my health was back so I could have grabbed a nozzle last week. I would have loved to visited with the out of town firefighters and talk shop.
There are only two words that we can say down here and they seem so inadequate, THANK YOU! The community thanks all who have helped, contributed, and prayed. I thank all who have contacted us to make sure we were OK. And I thank all the well wishers who sent me birthday greetings.