Monday, May 09, 2022

And I fail


I've never been more afraid.
I've never been more fearless.
I've never known greater weakness.
I've never been stronger. 
I've never been more confused.
I've never known love more surely.
I've never understood less. 
I've never been more filled with wonder.
I've never held onto anything with more certainty that I have absolutely no control. 
I've never hoped more. 
I've never cried more.
I've never laughed so much and so hard.
I've never felt more pain.
I've never felt more profound joy that fills my whole being.
I've never been more proud.
I've never been more embarrassed.
I've never been more shocked.
I've never been so utterly delighted.
I've never been more confident.
I've never been more unsure.
I've never run so hard and fast and made less measurable progress.
I've never felt such exhilaration.
I've never been more exhausted.
I've never experienced such energy. 
I've never done so many gross things. 
I've never experienced things so outrageously beautiful. 
I've never stumbled and fallen so much. 
I've never run so hard and so tirelessly. 
I've never been so blind and terrified. 
I've never seen things so clearly and poignantly. 
I've never dreaded the future more. 
I've never had so much hope in the future as I have now. 

Motherhood has irrevocably changed me, complicated me, and brought me to my knees. 

It is impossible and incredible. 

Raise them to love each other and treat one another with kindness. And I fail. And yet... I have never seen such sacrificial love as I see them give to one another in the most unexpected ways and places. 

Help them to see what others cannot. And I fail. And yet... it was the butterfly with the broken wing that Kelton lifted from the trail and placed upon the tree branch that it might die with dignity. It was Declan who pulled all the money in his pocket ($9) to give to the broken man who asked us for change as we walked by. It was Madigan who dragged me outside to show me the radiance of the sun setting in the dust-filled sky.

Teach them to value order that they might live lives without self-inflicted chaos. And I fail. And yet... I see glimpses where they are ardently cleaning their rooms to find items a place of belonging, bringing order to the chaos that so easily takes precedence in a room governed by Legos. There are the moments when little magic (male) fairies flitter about tidying up the kitchen, vacuuming the floor, picking up the living room. 

Show them the value of hard work. And I fail. And yet... I then see them put all their strength and energy into working tirelessly on a project or job that has been assigned to them. I see them clean up burned rubble from a neighbor's destroyed house, loading it onto trailers by the buckets full and then helping unload trailer load after trailer load into the dumpsters. 

In my human weakness I see that is not for me to make it happen. I have been given the privilege of watching it happen. They will run and not be weary. They will lift their wings and they shall rise up on wings as eagles. Their strength will be renewed when they are weak and falter. I may fail, but they are not in my hands. 

I sat outside in the darkness tonight counting the stars and I was caught in the wonder of the expanse of these lights in the heavens; it was the reminder that we are desperately small, vulnerable and immeasurably valuable. In the expanse of it all, our lives matter more than we can comprehend. 

poo in a bucket

Our septic is not working, so for the past 5 days we have been showering/bathing in a water bucket, going potty in a camping toilet (bucket), washing dishes rarely and by hand. Our kitchen sink hasn't been working either, so we haven't had hot water or the use of one side of the sink. When our little cherubs periodically forget to use only the one side of the sink, our kitchen mildly floods. :-) We are working our way to finding a solution for the septic issues, but these things are never uncomplicated, so we're not sure when we'll be counted among those blessed with flushing toilets. Here's to hope! I will say that peeing in the woods has taken on a whole new magic! And showering in a bucket is really not so bad; our trees are loving the results as we bestow upon them the leftover shower water. My frequency at Matador, our favorite coffee shop has not lessened, as it turns out... they have FLUSHING toilets! Woohoo! 

I have found that trying to organize areas of my house where I am able has helped me sort through the frustrations a bit better. So, I started with the spice cabinet, which is now alphabetically ordered and I love it! Makes cooking so much easier! 

We've also been spending a good deal of time exploring in alternative places. Our side of the mountain is still mostly shut down due the Tunnel Fire. The Tunnel Fire keeps lurking and hot spots keep popping up thanks to the insane winds we've been having. So, everyone is a little edgy, I think. The dreaded smoke and ash have been stirred up as the wind whips through our valley, so any who want to savor the outdoors are struggling. 

We hiked Fern Mountain and up to Bismarck Lake yesterday morning, and it was delightful. 

We also wandered around Pomeroy Tanks where we haven't been for over 2 years. 

And Madigan and I took a ride with Shelly, Joan and Roger for Shelly's last ride on the Arizona Trail before she moves to South Carolina. :-( 

This place holds a magic all it's own. One minute it feels like it's trying to kill you, and the next it mesmerizes you with it's beauty and tranquility. It is where I belong, even if it sometimes breaks my heart. 

Friday, May 06, 2022

Mozzarella or Grated Cheddar Cheese

One day, throughout the day, Kelton asked me: 

"Would you rather be a duck or a raven?" 

Would you rather be a mozzarella cheese ball or mild cheddar, grated? 

Would you rather be a black bear or a black panther?

Would you rather live where there are tornadoes or live where there are fires? 

Would you rather swim in the ocean or in a freezing cold lake in the mountains? 

Would you rather face your worst fears and gain courage, or never have to face your fears and never gain courage?" 

Dang buddy! From the sublime to the profound. He's keeping me on my toes. All of the boys ask me questions, or engage me in dialogue throughout the entirety of each day and though it can sometimes leave me with mental fatigue by the end of the day, I hold these things close to my heart. I know there will be years of loneliness ahead when quiet will fill my house, when they won't come to me with every consideration and thought, earnestly seeking my feedback. 

Though it may sometimes seem unimportant to give the mozzarella cheese vs grated cheddar cheese notion dutiful reflection, I have come to realize that it is to the contrary quite important to respond with careful thought. It is important because Kelton is important and these ruminations are all an integral part of his development. As each of the boys mature, their interactions become progressively more profound and engaging and it's magical to witness.

As they explore life, I will run alongside them, until I can no longer run. I trust them into the hands of the One who created them and I am thankful that He carries them where I cannot. He leads them when I falter. He propels them forward when my human brokenness would hold them back. And he will sustain them when the world fails them.


Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Thoughts on Fire

I was spent from another long week. It was Sunday, and I just needed time on my hill, near my tree, to think and BE. I started hiking before 4:30 pm and when I stopped to take a picture, I saw what looked just a little bigger than a campfire off in the horizon, toward Schultz Pass. I could tell from the angle that it wasn't far from my parent's house. I called 911 to call it in and was told they would send crews over to check it out. Then, I texted my dad to see if he knew anything about it, since he tends to just know such things. He hadn't heard about it but recommended I call it in. There was no wind, so I was not excessively worried, though it had grown larger by the time I reached the top of my hill. Dad started listening to his scanner and told me they had engines on it and it was only about 3 acres. I was glad I had called it in. There was no wind predicted for the next day either. However, strong winds were predicted for Tuesday, so I was also relived it hadn't started one day later. 

On Monday, again on my way to my hill for an early morning hike, I did see some residual smoke, but it looked small. 

On Tuesday, Dad called in the morning and told me that the fire seemed to be ramping up and I remembered that the winds were supposed to pick up significantly in the morning hours. I asked him if he wanted the boys and I to come help him pick up pine needles and help fire prep his house "just in case" the unthinkable happened. He said it would probably be a good idea, and by the time I had rounded up the boys, Kaysee and Max, the winds had already picked up significantly. We helped Dad for about 1 hour, were put on SET evacuation status, saw one air tanker make a drop, and then decided to get Mom's horse off the property and to a friend's house. By the time I returned with the horse trailer 1/2 hour later, the Sheriff's officers (SO) already had the road blocked and I was only able to enter because I knew of another entrance which hadn't yet been blocked. 

At this point we were on GO evacuation status. Dad had already determined that he would stay to defend his home and we had gotten the kids back to our other house, out of any danger. We cantered down to our Octagon house and A-frame where Kyle and Lauren (who live in our Octagon) were already raking anything/everything away from the houses. We filled the horse trailer with pine needles, weeds, and any flammable debris. We also filled water troughs and watered all the trees until the moment we were forced to leave.  The SO was going door to door honking, using their sirens and yelling at people to leave. Right at that point, the wind turned and we were overwhelmed by smoke, heat, ash and even some sparks flying through the air. The roar of the fire was incredible. We could hear propane tanks exploding and there was dark black smoke each time the fire consumed another structure. We knew our neighbor's houses were being destroyed. We all loaded into the vehicles and left together. As we left, I knew Dad was in the thick of it all, trying to defend his home. It was terrifying.


Dad kept communicating with us, as often as he was able, but in one conversation, I could hear the tension in his voice. The background noise sounded like a freight train bearing down on him. He was able to save his house, but his videos and picture footage are horrifying. I think his long years of experience as a firefighter in the Forest Service helped him have the calm and ability to think clearly throughout the ordeal. He was an incredible help to so many in the community as he checked on people's houses throughout the night, putting out spot fires and was able to let people know the status of their house while they were locked our of the area. The fire was so fast blowing and so chaotic. It burned one house, missed the other, turned directions, crowned, dropped... it was unpredictable and savage, consuming 2000 acres in less than 1 hour. 

As we left our house, the wind was bearing directly down upon it and I knew our house was in the path of the fire wall. By evening, I just had to know... so I hiked another hill and was able to spot, in the distance, our house(s) and they appeared to be untouched. By some miracle, the wind had shifted as the fire wall descended and the fire missed Wind Horse Haven entirely. It, however, did not miss the homes of so many whom we have grown to know and love. I sat on top of that hill in the freakish wind and sobbed. 

It's strange to feel survivor's guilt so profoundly. There is the overwhelming gratitude for having been spared the pain of that loss, of getting to continue to love and cherish that place so dear, so treasured.... it is a gift that feels so absolutely unwarranted. I am haunted by the devastation I bear witness to. By the families escorted in by the SO to face the crumbled, smoldering rubble of the homes they loved; the homes that housed the lives they have built. 

We now have a tremendous responsibility to step up with everything we have to assist those who have lost everything. This is a time when we must come together as a community to find the ultimate strength to start over; no one should have to do it alone. 

I hope a thorough investigation is given to understanding what actually happened with this fire. It does not seem that any of this should have happened if the fire had been properly addressed on Sunday, when it first started. Two days with no wind. There was time to drown it long before the vicious winds of Tuesday assailed us all. Our forest is completely devastated, countless houses burned to their foundations, an entire community permanently, horribly and inextricably altered. This should not have happened. 

So, when I read in the news a personal assessment after reviewing some of the investigative data: "I have full confidence that Forest Service firefighters acted appropriately, professionally and aggressively to suppress the Tunnel Fire from the beginning..." I must admit I do not share that confidence. 

We will rebuild, but we will never forget what is lost in the ashes.

I have not been able to access the area, but from a distance it does appear that my tree, and possibly even part of my hill survived the fire. This, for me, is a bountiful blessing. It will be with much rejoicing that I will hug my tree again, if I am able to see it up close and know beyond doubt that it is unharmed. :-) It is but a tree, but for me it holds so much. 

Let us cherish what we have been given, for in the blink of an eye it can be taken from us. Let us SEE.