Last Sunday some of our kids were home for a visit so we took a hike at Jack London State Park. It was a gorgeous day – blue sky, temperatures in the mid-60s, green grass, wildflowers, rushing creeks, waterfalls cascading down Fallen Bridge Trail. When we came back around to the Pig Palace it suddenly hit us that it was exactly six months to the day from the fires. Six months ago, also on a Sunday, we were down on Arnold Drive at the Glen Ellen Village Fair – another beautiful sunny day, but hot and with high winds forecast for later that evening. You know the rest.
Now planet Earth is on the other side of the sun, tilting in the opposite direction. We’ve gone 180º since that horrible night. In some ways it’s a more significant anniversary than one year, when we will be right back where we started, astronomically speaking. And for many of us, our lives are also 180º opposite what they were on that Sunday afternoon, Oct. 8, 2017.
Where fire raced across the dry landscape in October, carpets of purple lupine, golden poppies, milkmaids and buttercups now dazzle the eye. Most burned parcels are cleared of debris, ready for rebuilding or resale. Most people who lost homes have found places to live, although we know a number of folks who will be forced to move once again for a variety of reasons – they’ve been in a short-term rental, they’re moving into a trailer on their property, their landlord wants to get back into the vacation rental business. We personally don’t know anyone who has begun actual rebuilding yet.
Earth Day is April 22, and every year in April there are celebrations and work days all around Sonoma County. But this year feels more significant than before. Climate scientists tell us to expect more extreme weather events, be it fires and floods in California, blizzards and hurricanes back east, or tornadoes in the Midwest. Here we are at the halfway mark, heading back toward the other side of the sun, heading into spring and summer, heading into the dry season. We have to start getting ready.
Do you know two ways to exit your neighborhood? Have you packed your go-bags? Is your property clear of fuel and debris? If not, it’s time to get to work. And on a larger scale, it’s time for us to do our part to slow down global warming, even though it may seem like it’s too late. Change out incandescent light bulbs with CFLs or LEDs. Stop buying water in plastic bottles. Plant a tree. Carpool. Ride your bike to work if possible. Sure, if you were the only person on the planet doing these things it would be futile. But imagine if three or four billion people did them. Now we’re talking big impact! Go to www.earthday.org/earth-day-tips/ for a bunch more ideas.
It’s now six months since Oct. 8, 2017, a good time to take stock of where we’ve been, and appreciate what it is we’ve all been through and managed to survive to get to this point. If you need some inspiration, just step outside.