Thursday, June 27, 2013

Describing and Explaining


Fire traveling across the forest floor

I lowered the windows in my 4Runner and turned off the key. The short jaunt to our next-door neighbor took one minute. But the black ash and soot curtailed my steps for the 300 foot walk between our homes. To trek through it meant stirring up cinders while holding a tissue across my nose and mouth.

Fire crowning in the trees

 The landscape of the final 1.5 miles before turning left onto our street is forever scarred. The Black Forest inferno consumed almost every home on both sides of this road we travel almost daily. In its wake it left piles of ash, skeletons of vehicles, brick chimneys, a view we never before saw, and blackened matchsticks that only hours earlier were majestic Ponderosa Pines, a playground for squirrels and the residences of birds.

The view as I drove in from Kansas.

Two weeks ago Bill fled our home; a thick curtain of black billowing smoke heading his way enveloped the end of our short dirt road. His heart pounded in his chest; he called me on my cell. (I was driving home from a week in Kansas.) His words, “Honey, we’re going to lose our home.” Five hours later in the safety of a friend’s living room, I collapsed in his arms. Our tears mingled.

Flowers alive and bringing the gift of beauty

Thirteen days later, as I often do, I sat on the wooden deck of our home sunscreen applied and my visor in place. A brilliant blue sky silhouetted the tall green Ponderosas. The smell of smoke still permeated the air. This year’s annuals Bill planted just three days before the fire appear unscathed. They offer color, beauty, normalcy, and a place for the bees to gather nectar. The birds chirped about their experience; the squirrels scampered from one tree to another. I closed my eyes and the welcome scent of honeysuckle filled my nostrils and overcame the smoke.
How can these four pictures encompass and communicate the horror and the wonder of the past 16 days?
I can’t.
There is no human explanation of why our home stands and our yard survived. The evidence of the fire encircles our house; our property is now blackened where once a pine needle carpet sat; in one place the scorched ground comes within an inch of our foundation. The two cords of seasoned fire wood which once stood tall a short 15 feet from a wooden fence are gone; the fence remains. We live near the origin of the fire and our home was in its destructive path.
Two of our neighbors, one across the street, another one house away, lost everything. Good friends are beginning the arduous process of sifting through the remains of their homes. We will help.  
It doesn’t make sense.
“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, …” Deuteronomy 29:29
We talk; we cry; we journal; we ponder; we listen; we connect; we do the next thing.
“Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” Lamentations 3:22 NIV 
Smoke creates beautiful sunsets.

Please also check Bill's words at His post is titled, Lessons from the Forest Fire, #1. Penned on June 27, 2013.
 Our good friend and neighbor, Del Tackett, shares some of his thoughts on his blog Truth Observed at on June 23, 2013 titled, Tragedies Withheld.


  1. Sue, I love your Thursday pondering a! I sure am sorry that you have been called to walk through ashes.

  2. Ah, Ricki I love our new friendship. Thank you for your loving words.