Tonight is my monthly dinner with four friends. We have been doing this eating thing for 30 years, monthly, religiously, unfailingly, devotedly. We save up our individual little daily "adventures" (single mothers (well, parents generally) have very few days that roll along without and "adventure") and then we share them at our dinner table, along with commiserating with each other on their unique adventures of the last four weeks.
This time we can hardly stand ourselves to sit by idly waiting for the minutes to pass until 6:30. One of our group lived through and survived the Spokane Valley View Fire of 2008, Thursday July 10. Last Thursday we had a fierce wind storm that whipped up a little campfire to a roaring frenzy, aiming it at an exclusive gated community of very expensive homes, with one single access road going north. The fire and the smoke were unbelievable, the wind insurmountable. In the end, the firestorm acted like some tornado you would see in Indiana. It twisted and turned and jumped any which way, striking one house, leaving another, and pouncing on the third. Eleven houses were burned. There was little carnage – it burned so hot and fast, that nothing is left except cement pillars, cement porches, cement foundations, and lots of ash. It spread over 1,000 acres, slipping through the locked community gate and indiscriminately changed lives forever. Fortunately, and blessedly, there were no injuries or deaths. Not sure about pets – but people came out from everywhere, strangers, and took in dogs, cats, horses, goats, while their human families were evacuated.
My dinner group friend lives in the middle of the fire zone. She and her sister (another of my dinner group) were doing errands on Thursday and noticed the smoke coming from the area quite a ways west of my friend's house. They both thought nothing of it - that it was just a small brush fire or maybe even a controlled burn. They went on with their chores. When she drove up to her house, though, a guy was parked by her driveway and she asked him why he was there and he said "Oh, I'm just watching that fire." She looked over and it was suddenly a lot of smoke - an awful lot. She still felt safe though - that the wind was blowing more northerly than southerly. However, when she got in the house, her animals were all acting totally nuts and she decided to take caution, even if it were too much, and started gathering important papers.
She is WAAAYYYYY more organized than I am. She was able to instantly put her hands on: a box of pictures; a box of bills and statements; and a box of all the receipts and floor plans for her house, which she and her husband built about ten years ago. She loaded the boxes into her car, gathered up the animals and stuffed them beside the boxes, and started down the road - only to come across fire on both sides - near the Pring house (a two million dollar mansion which would be engulfed moments after she passed). A little trickle of fire was running across the road and she floored it past there and drove until she reached a "meadow" which was a baseball field that one of the gated community residents built. There she waited with about 30 other residents, AND a fireman. They couldn't get down further because a larger branch of the fire was burning across the road. They sat there in pretty much a safe zone and watched the fire burn around them, sweep up towards her house, and crawl around and down the other side across from the baseball field. About two hours later, they all were led out of the fire zone. Her house was saved - but the two on either side of her were burned to the ground.
So I have been quite introspective lately. I could easily be jealous of my friend – she lives on top of the world, with a great view, locked safely in behind a key-coded gate, in a house that she and her husband built, their dream home, for half a million (one of the lower end houses).
There is much to be thankful for that we (well, I) take for granted. My house is paid for, is comfortable and fits me, has good insurance on it, in case a purple elephant should fall on it. I have a plethora of friends that fill my various needs for affection, caring, praise, love, empathy. I have a good car that is paid for and gets 34 mpg, a real necessity today with soaring gas prices. I have two adult sons that are my whole life! A house is simply shelter. A house can be easily replaced. My friends and family cannot.