Walbridge Fire

Ashes, ashes

The Walbridge fire near us, the one that evacuated us, still burns. Many have lost their homes, and we will mourn with them, even while experiencing relief that most evacuations orders are lifted and the fire perimeter is holding.

I’ve heard from many of my friends that we are all weary of virus and fires and of smoky air that keeps us inside. We are unable to breathe deep and have feel that “it’s over now”.  And we probably have three more months of “fire season” ahead.

The last two days I’ve turned back to my mixed media, expressive, intuitive Muse art to help me deal with those feelings that the mind has not been able to keep up with. 

I grabbed a new bottle of black ink and as I dropped, splattered, smeared and scraped. . .

the words “ashes, ashes, we all fall down!” kept popping up. Hmmm. . .a nursery rhyme. Remember?

Ring around the rosies

A pocket full of posies

Ashes, ashes

We all fall down!

So I decided to research the rhyme and here’s what I found! Ring-a-round the rosie (probably in the Great Plague of London in 1665) referred to a red circular rash common in some forms of plague. The posies would have represented the different flowers and herbs people carried to ward off disease. The ashes or a-tishoo and falling down was supposed to mimic sneezing and eventually dying from the disease.

It seems that fire and plague have joined hands again!

monoprint and collage

And so I did another on the same theme, with the rosies/posies and ashes and that red orange we’ve seen on the horizon of late, either at sunset or sunrise, tinting the sun and the moon. 

Rosies and posies, fire and plague. No wonder I can’t get the mind around it. But art can.

Fire Evacuations: Donkeys, Goats and Us

Before the fire season got off to a roaring start with lightning strikes and wildland fires all over California, I had been occasionally enjoying the company of the donkeys and goats that live at the bottom of our road. After my dinner I would take a bucket of apples down in the cool of the early evening. They would see me approaching and come running. Did me a world of good to suddenly be so popular.

I’ve tried many times before to sketch them at the fence where they are so adorable and engaging, but it’s impossible with all the movement. So one time I kept them waiting for their apples, while I took pictures.

The donkeys are not that much bigger than the biggest goats and I had to distract the goats who are more aggressive at the fence.

Then last week, as we were packing for a fire evacuation I noticed that the field was empty and the donkeys and goats had beat us to evacuation.

Perhaps they were taken to the county fairgrounds, or perhaps a friend’s pasture, but I hope to see them home soon. It would do my nerves a world of good to have my animal friends gobbling apples from my hands again.

It’s been an exhausting and stressful week of evacuation to three different places in the Bay Area, to friends’ homes and a hotel. But our area was saved, thanks to the tireless efforts of firefighters, police, prison inmate crews, pilots, local authorities, rescuers from far away, and so many more.

We came home yesterday to a yellow ribbon on our mailbox “crime scene” which we figured was placed there when the police made their rounds of mandatory evacuation areas. Otherwise there is a dusting of ash, a lot of fallen apples, neighbors with their own stories to tell, and Sylvester the cat who no longer lives here, but hangs out here all day.

We still have a friend who is waiting for news of whether her house will be saved. And of course there are all the families who have already lost their homes, and that rests heavily on my heart. I’d like to say I’ll get right out and do more fire story sketches as I did in 2017 and 2018, but I haven’t had the extra energy to sketch through this crisis. One spends so much time just making it through the day, calling and texting friends and family, moving possessions in and out of the car.

And now I just want to enjoy home again. After all, that is the greatest gift when you almost lose yours and then don’t.