A panorama of our smoky “stomping grounds” in Rubicon…
Sunday, February 15th, 2009 – DAY NINE
Waking up in and living with smoke takes a toll over time. Your head constantly feels foggy, keeping headaches tenuously at bay. Your throat is raspy, sore, and dry, except for that little chunk of mucus in the back you just can’t seem to cough clear. You blow your nose and clear black mucus from your nostrils. And the constant aroma of smoke is far from pleasant. Having your senses overloaded with these stimuli every morning makes it difficult to wake up on the right side of the bed in a positive head space; it is a constant conscious battle.
Eight days after evacuating our house, we return to it. Knowing it is fine before arriving makes it a relatively easy thing to do. Also knowing that the mountains at the back are on fire means no startling surprises.
Seeing the house has been an intense desire through most of the week, almost inexplicably so. Knowing that so many houses have been flattened by fire creates a need (however illogical) to make sure beyond all doubt that it is okay. There are also a few items (official documents and such) that preyed on our minds all week as a need to have in our possession and protection, and it is nice to put our hands on them.
The fire behind the house is burning slowly and is stable – even controlled – and between the house and the mountain/fire is a whole range of runway-esque control lines bulldozed into the land that would confuse even an air traffic controller. We collect a few of the things we need, do some fire-prevention cleaning up around the property, and bid adieu to it once again. We are confident that we will return to it in ship shape condition, once again….sometime.
An entire day and evening in Taggerty has been interesting…I am going with the idea that a change is as good as a rest on this one, since there was not much “rest” to be had today. The threat of fire is considerably higher and more constant. Staying at the house of a friend in the CFA (with other CFA friends coming in and out) has been an exercise in pagers going off and mad dashes made to cars many times in a day. Being able to see fire a few hills over (about 2kms away) is even less of a consolation.
But even so, those few moments spent, all of us together and enjoying some great company and light-hearted conversation – just like old times – is refreshing and comforting. Having an entire day away from the warehouse and able to process everything that has happened in the last week has been therapeutic. Time to reflect on the events of the last week-that-feels-like-a-month is very necessary; too many people are trying to go hard, working tirelessly on their causes (be it fighting fire, volunteering, or providing relief of some sort) and not leaving an inch for personal time or space. But living constantly with such high emotions around you, the constant lurking threat of fire, and not reserving any personal time is a recipe for disaster.
And so it is with personal time and a refreshed perspective that I go to bed, ready to face another week of amazing and satisfying work.