Yesterday afternoon, Rick called me from town, where he was on his way home from a quick grocery run, and was watching in amazement as the first small bit of fire he spotted went out of control almost instantly. He watched a barn burst into flames, with burning debris exploding off in all directions. And while he watched and told me what he was seeing, we started talking about how long it would take us to load up our stuff and clear out of here if we had to. I dashed up to the top of the hill on foot, to get an idea of just how close the fire was to us. Fortunately, it was several miles away, but the wind was blowing in our direction, and ash was already falling all around me. This is not the view we want to see from our little lakeside camp.
We were lucky. It turned out not to be a disaster for us. Fire trucks and 2 helicopters put the flames out over the course of several hours. But it was quite disastrous for a lot of people in Oak Knoll. Aside from the barn, 11 homes were destroyed and 3 were damaged. I haven't heard of anyone being hurt, which is a blessing, but I can barely imagine what it would feel like to lose everything so suddenly. Of course I feel awful for those people, and also grateful to still be parked here in relative safety. I see this as a wake-up call. I'm reminded that there truly is no such thing as security. Things can change course in a heartbeat, and the best we can do is appreciate the calm moments, and try to prepare, at least a little bit, for the chaos. Rick and I got right to work moving the firewood pile we had under the front of our trailer. It was protected from rain there, and easy to get to, but it also blocked us from moving in a hurry if we had to. We're beginning to prep for our trip to Taos anyway, so now is a good time to start organizing things and getting rid of some accumulated stuff we don't intend to take with us. The lesson here for me is, don't get too comfortable, too relaxed. And keep the load light. That way we can move it quickly if necessary, and in a really tight spot, there just isn't that much to lose.