Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Update on our wildfire

Right now, I am living and breathing two things:

1) The wildfire that's burning very, very close to our house (and spreading).

2) Marketing my online cheese making course.

These are the things that are consuming my life at the moment (besides rearing my children, taking care of animals and gardens, and doing some laundry every now and then).

About the wildfire: There is the Upper Skagit complex fire that's within ten miles of us (6,700 acres burnt so far), and there is the Okanagan complex just over the mountains (257,000 acres burnt so far, and probably more after this post is published).  The latter fire is making international news, prompting concerned calls from my family in Germany.  

This was a flare-up on Monday, when the fire ran up Newhalem Creek. Photo taken two minutes from our house.
We are not in danger, I think.  Everyone re-assures us that it is very unlikely that the fire will spread in our direction (west), since it wants to go uphill and east.  Nevertheless, anxiety in our community runs high.  And I, not known as being particularly calm and centered, but possessing a natural abundance of anxiety-proneness, I am obsessively watching internet news and Facebook posts about the fires.

It doesn't help that ever other day, the wind blows from the east, and thick smoke covers our valley.  Some days are so bad that we don't want to go outside at all.  The other day, I picked beans for making pickles, but had to go inside quickly because my lungs started hurting.  On these days, the sun is a hazy ball of orange, obscured by thick layers of smoke.

The following pictures all depict smoke, not fog or clouds.  Smoke.







One good thing about being trapped in the house is that I get some canning done.


Some days are sunny and blue-skied.  This happened a few days ago, and my friend Andrea and I took our daughters for a hike and then a swim at Baker Lake.  The sunny (albeit smokey) horizon felt heavenly.  We hiked up a short way into the mountains, where we lunched by a magical tarn, accompanied by our good friend, Mount Baker.  








Then on to Baker Lake for a swim.  I can't tell you how good it felt to be out.  Nature, lakes, rivers and mountains are incredibly important for my sanity.  When I'm deprived of being out there, I get especially whacky.  

One of the reasons I'm so freaked out about these fires is the loss of so much land.  What of the animals?  Yes, I know they are resourceful, and yes, I know fires do occur naturally, but still... The animals must be freaked out by all the smoke and loss of their homes.  There are especially huge piles of bear poop around our neighborhood lately.  On a run, our neighbor saw two baby bears climbing a tree.  Are these critters being driven down to the valley bottom by the fires?

And the trees, the beloved big cedars and firs and hemlocks.  I know for a fact that some of the trees we picnicked under just last week are now dead, charred, and fallen.  It makes my heart hurt.





Anxiety, sadness, annoyance, yes.  But I am also very grateful that we still have a house to live in, that we have an incredibly strong, bonded community (that's small-town livin' for you!), that the world has firefighters who put their lives on the line.  Thank you, firefighters.  We love you, and we will continue to bake cookies for you.

11 comments:

  1. This is my first time commenting. I am thinking of everybody involved with the fires, being from Colorado I know all to well of the devastation that fire causes. Hoping that cooler temperatures and rain comes your way soon to help out with the effort.

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    1. Rain is supposed to come on the weekend!!!!!

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  2. Can you send some of that rain (whatever you don't need) down our way? The bay flow sent our smoke in a northerly direction so now we have clear skies. I'm glad you aren't in danger. I simply can't imagine the terror caused by being in the path of a big fire. We had a small fire in our cooperative horse pasture once. Everyone who could get there held their horses on halter waiting for the authorities to tell them what to do. Some of the people argued amongst themselves what to do. It was not a pretty scene. Luckily the first responders put it out quickly. It marshalled us into making a plan if it ever happened again.

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  3. Oh Corina, I miss you! We are doing the rain dance in Olympia! How sweet it will be once it comes.

    Glad to see you are well.

    Stephanie

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  4. Oh Corina, I miss you! We are doing the rain dance in Olympia! How sweet it will be once it comes.

    Glad to see you are well.

    Stephanie

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    1. Stephanie, so nice to hear from you! I miss you too!
      Keep dancing the rain dance, I think it's working!
      Hugs!

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  5. Part of my heart resides in the Glacier Peak Wilderness and Holden Village with strong connections to the Chelan area and I have been obsessively checking online sources. Also, the weather, which shows rain (please!!!) for the weekend. Everyone needs some sort of break with these monsters. I live in CO in the mountains and one summer I went to work every day with a small bag packed with important documents, pictures, etc. I'm pretty sure that was also the summer of the "ash cocktail." Take care and keep on sending the good vibes to those firefighters...they need it!

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    1. I know, I am obsessively checking internet sources as well. It's crazy making!
      Rain is in the forecast! Now people are worrying about slides. There's always something!

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  6. Hope the fires end soon and the smoke clears! We're near the Oregon Coast and are finally getting some rain after it's been dry for so long and it's relieving us just a bit to have less fire risk. All the best to you guys up there.

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    1. Taryn, the rains have started! Thanks for your good vibes our direction. Glad that you are finally getting some rain, too!

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