Sixteen

As I sit here under the pines and oaks in relative peace with my Golden Kali by my side it’s easy to block out the world, the water, the wind, and the hardships imposed by both natural and human means.   It would be easy, given the beauty and harmony at the Golden K.  But it would be wrong.

Wrong because the Golden K is not an island, as is no man.  The Golden K is a blessing not to be taken for granted.   And the Golden K is part of the earth’s fabric, the political landscape’s fabric, and indeed the fabric of life.   So as I sit here with the canine love of my life I also remember.  I remember 16 years ago.  I remember 16 days ago.  And I remember 16 hours ago.   I think of all the first responders who didn’t make their way out of the rubble.   I think of the families and elderly who may have seen their lives literraly washed away.  I think of the domestic animals who had to be left behind or those wild ones who had no time or means to find safety.

Many have been saying that the worst brings out the best in “us”.  It has been wonderful, under these circumstances, to see unity and the collective human spirit rise above the elements that divided us just weeks ago slightly north of Irma.  The 24 hour news cycle has been about humanity instead of political profanity.  About saving lives instead of tearing them apart with hate.  About life boats instead of walls.   Talk about a kick in the teeth and wake up from mother nature.  Is it coincidence that after the beating mother nature has given us over the past few weeks that the memory of 911 presents itself?

I philosophize here on the deck of the Golden K while so many are “practicalizing”  on the porch of a flooded home or at ground zero in NYC with only the memories of someone dear who was lost.   What else is there to do?   Pack a bag and head into the “eye of the storm”?

What do we do?  What can we do?  When can we do it?

Prayers to all the 16’s.  16 years, 16 days, and 16 hours ago.

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Emergency Alert

All of a sudden our mobile devices emitted that classic emergency alert sound that used to come on the radio or television when there was a test of the Emergency Broadcasting System.   It was a familiar sound when I was younger.  A voice would come on and say something like “This has been a test of the Emergency Broadcast System.  If this had been a real emergency…”.   And then normal programming would resume.

So there we were just getting ready to settle down with a glass of wine after a long warm day of working around The Golden K and we hear that familiar sound.  Holly and I both grab our phones and see an message on the screen that says, “Emergency Alert – fire evacuation notice”.  We’ve signed up for emergency alerts via a local service that tracks things like extreme weather, fires, and other disasters.   We frequently get alerts about extreme weather conditions and lightening storms but we’ve never received one about a fire or one that announces that evacuations are in progress.

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We both ran outside to see if we could see smoke or flames.    It’s been less than a week since the Detwiler fire,  about 20 miles south of The Golden K, caused thousands to be evacuated,  burned 75,000 acres, and destroyed over 60 homes.

This was one of those times that intellectual fear becomes emotional fear.  That moment when thoughts about bad things quickly move down from the brain to the stomach.  When one realizes that “they” could be “me”.

I quickly found information on the CalFire website that told us that the fire was burning about 12 miles south west of us near Jamestown, a historic gold rush town.  We learned that there were road closures and that homes and businesses along those roads were being evacuated.   But there were few other details about how quickly the fire was spreading and how wide spread the evacuation might be.  I looked out onto the back of The Golden K and it was like any other peaceful and quiet Saturday afternoon.   I thought to myself, “What will we do if the fire get’s any closer to us and evacuations are recommended or mandatory”.   A few moments later Holly says, “I’m not leaving”.

Practicality quickly prevailed and we decided to “get some things” together just in case.   Not surprisingly the first thing Holly does is pack dog food in sm all meal-sized plastic bags and put them in a larger paper bag to throw in the car if necessary.  That’s how much Holly and I love Kali and Kloe.  Their comfort and safety are paramount to just about anything else and the first place Holly went emotionally was to take care of the Girls.

I gathered up my mobile devices and charging cords.  I plugged them all in just in case we had to leave they would be fully charged.  I went to my office to gather the two external hard drives I use to back up my devices.  I put them all in my back pack and set it by the bag of dog food.

OK – dog food and computers by the door.  I guess were ready if the time comes.

We continued to monitor the fire with updates from website.  It was spreading quickly with no word about containment yet.  We decided that if it got much later with no updates or signs that things were coming under control we would pack cloths and other items.  And then we did the next most logical thing.   I opened a bottle of wine and Holly ordered pizza.

Within a few hours, a couple of glasses of wine, and two thirds of a pizza later we learned that the fire was 30% contained and evacuations had mostly been lifted.   We also learned that the system that sends out these emergency alerts for the County should not have sent the evacuation alert to the entire county.  The alert should have been much more localized and had it been it’s likely it would not have been sent to us.  So although there was never any immediate threat to The Golden K we didn’t know that until several hours after the alerts first sounded on our phones.

It’s been over a year since we moved to the mountains but I feel like last night was the official “welcome to mountain living in the summer” announcement.

Living in the Bay Area for years Holly and I always talked about putting together an earthquake preparedness kit.  We never did.  Now living in the mountains for a year there is a different and very real threat we must prepare for.  Wildfire.

So, we will create our evacuation kit with plenty of dog food and other necessary supplies should we ever have to bug our of The Golden K due to fire.  Intellectually, I’ll be prepared to leave The Golden K behind and pray that the day will never come.

Emotionally though, I will never leave behind my romantic perspective of life at 3100.

THE GOLDEN K IN SPRING  IMG_2891