It’s been almost two weeks since the Almeda Fire happened. It’s been about two days since the severe risk has passed and about two hours since we’ve seen blue skies and can breathe fresh air.
The numbers are staggering. Over 2800 structures and homes lost. Hundreds of small businesses that thrived in this valley are gone. 3200 acres burned in the Almeda Fire. 32000 acres are burning in the Obenchain Fire, just 20 miles from here. (It’s 35% contained.) All of it is shocking on so many levels. The loss, the speed of it, the complete devastation, the overwhelming goodness and generosity of this community. I’ve struggled with what to say. My house is standing and I’m unspeakably grateful for that. I also had a very close call on the day it started. It is luck or providence or just mother nature that the winds didn’t blow this fire straight up the hill to our house. It was in sight. From my mailbox I can see acres of black scorched land that burned.
I’ve spent about 10 days in complete fear and anxious paralysis. Every time there is a county warning on my phone, I jump. The town is on very high alert with no rain. We’re nervous. No, we’re terrified. This happened in a blink of an eye. I’ve also spent the last two weeks in awe of this community. Collectively, you can feel it, all we want to do is help. In any way possible. Cash, food, volunteering, go fund me pages, supplies, toiletries, labor, you name it, there is a place to drop it off, kind volunteers sorting and distributing and people to help you. Red Cross and Fema are here. Money is flowing to the right people. It is a grieving community in action.
And I’m also trying to work and paint. It’s been a challenge. The level of stress and anxiety is not normal for an extended period of time. Yet here I am in my house contemplating that. All I can think about is the bravery of the fire evacuees, the fire fighters, the service workers, the pilots dropping water and retardant on the flames, the countless helpers who have showed up during this tragedy. The families who are navigating temporary shelter while trying to home school their kids during covid. Or go to work. File insurance paperwork. Go back to their neighborhoods. It’s pure bravery. xo
This lion came through me the other night. It was as if he needed to be painted and didn’t let me stop until he was on the canvas. If you look up the symbolism of a lion the most common words are majesty, strength, courage, justice and even military might. Lions also protect and guard. Yes, bravery and protection. That is what you feel here now. xo