On Friday, I learned about the panic that strikes when a wildfire ignites nearby. Fortunately, we'd practiced packing for an evacuation about 10 days ago for another fire. However, we had no practice for how it feels when helicopters are buzzing just above your rooftop and the phone is ringing with a computerized voice telling you that you must leave immediately due to an approaching wildfire. Then, your phone starts ringing incessantly with people worried about you or neighbors who need help or want to help you. In the midst of the mayhem, I kept expecting to see fire in the treetops coming toward us, but fortunately, it never happened.
The helicopters were so close because they were filling with water from a pond a stone's throw from our house. The red helicopter is barely visible behind the middle pine tree.
Then, they zoomed toward the flames.
What I didn't expect, but should have, was how agitated the dogs became. Due to my naivete, I made a serious mistake, accidentally allowing R to slip past me and out the door. Because he and I were both so panicked, he wouldn't come to me despite his normally rock solid recall. After a few minutes that are comical only in retrospect, I corralled him. In the future, the dogs will be securely tucked away, with their leashes and seatbelt harnesses on, while we get ready to flee.
In the end, our mandatory evacuation order was rescinded. Comically, we received notification that we could return to our houses via reverse-911 to our houses... where we weren't supposed to be. By this morning, I could smile over that irony.
We were very lucky. The fire "crowned" almost immediately. If there'd been a breeze, it would have blown up like our recent fire. We were also lucky that the Type 1 Hot Shot crews with their air support were already in the area due to our recent fires. Otherwise, the story could be very different today.
Yesterday, we visited finger of a reservoir where dogs can swim. Don't worry, I took K's muzzle off to let her retrieve sticks from the water. I think that we were drawn to water because it is the opposite of fire!
Because one of the things that I fear most is losing our forest to a fire, I saw it through new eyes this morning, again giving thanks, as K and I rode into its depths.
K and I raced into the aspen groves with joy that they're still here!
We climbed up high, to see that a smoke haze still hangs over recent fire sites. But, the brilliant autumn colors almost completely distracted us from that part of the view!
K posed for me, looking quizzical. I wondered what she was pondering. Perhaps she was puzzling over the crazy fire drill of two days earlier and why I'm so completely depleted of energy these days.
I discovered that overnight, we'd had two visitors next to our house. At least one coyote trotted past the house.
And, my symbol of feistiness, the bobcat paid us a visit! I was surprised that he used the same trail as a coyote within about 22 minutes of the coyote. I've read that bobcats avoid coyotes because they can be killed by the canines. However, with the eyes of my wildlife cameras, I've also learned that the wildlife information that I read is not necessarily true.
May he bring all of us good luck and resilient spirits.