I now obsessively click on inciweb, checking the status of evacuations and wind patterns and burn scars up the canyons close by.
With the fires mere miles away from my home, I spent the weekend nervous and wondering. I signed up for text alerts and began making lists of items we would take should we get a call that could change our life.
My prayers centered on surrender and asking for protection. While I prayed, people in my community lost their homes. Whole lives burned up as bricks stood witness to the incineration.
New fires sparked further down the Front Range cooridor and I ask, “Is being witness enough?”
And if my witnessing is filtered through a screen, liberal media outlets, and through the stories on my social media feeds? Does this count as standing witness to pain?
I know what it’s like to get a phone call that can change your life. I also know what it’s like to hunker down and wait, with bated breath, for the wind to shift.
I’m trying to balance panic with presence. Reframe what could be to what is. Taking moments to identify the gifts residing in this natural disaster space.
Community members rally together to raise funds for those who have lost livelihoods.
Voters wait for hours to fill in bubbles with black ink.
The laundry is done and the sourdough is active.
I use my words to meditate – sending hope and love and peace to myself and others.
As I become accustomed to skies darkening with smoke, I slice oranges and lemons and toss them into a pot with cinnamon and cloves. Cool water covers the mixture and simmers slightly on my stove, trying to reclaim the air with fresh scents.
Ash rains down, falling in thin layers on my back patio, reminding me an essential part of my human experience is surrender.
I can click refresh but I can’t change the outcome. I can sweep away the mess, but things have still burned. The remnants smear black on concrete.
So much has turned to ash this year. Plans and dreams. Jobs and homes. Trust and a sense of safety. Community. Connection. A sense of time.
The other day I was checking the status of an online order we placed in August. The stressed customer service agent shared plans for the item to ship on October 20th. I texted Dylan, “Think we’ll get it before Christmas?”
“Christmas is really not that far away.”
I suppose he’s not wrong.
I’d forgotten it WAS October 20th. My brain is still stuck in April. Or September. I did grow a garden, right? Who knows if we’ll holiday, or give thanks over cardboard takeout containers. Wouldn’t it be alright to take a pass on tradition this year? Nothing else has been conventional. I’m not willing to risk a life for a turkey dinner.
The days are growing shorter and the nights are now long. I’m working on turning off my screens and taming my clicking finger’s tick to satisfy the need to know more of the madness we’re witnessing.
I’ll be here, turning on warm lights inside as the darkness descends. May that be a beautiful thing.