Community Green: What wind can bring

By Pamela Noel

Special to Plumas News

What comes on the wind?  All that exists in this world is delivered with it.  Tonight this breeze brings me the clear spring evening, full of the day’s end, the setting sun, and a little cool that invites me to keep the windows open, while wrapping a blanket around my shoulders.  Listening to the birds putting away the day with evening song I watch the leaves of the oaks dance.  Each branch moves its leafy collection in a continual sway.

I love this time of year—a pause before the heat of summer becomes serious.  This is the time I put basil, tomatoes, squash, and parsley in their raised beds. It is also the time I conduct  some serious trimming of strawberry runners, trying to find homes so they can continue to increase their bounty.  Amazed at what volunteers itself from last year—sorrel, chives, oregano, sage, thyme, lemon balm, garlic, and potatoes—I relish in these left-over gifts from another season.

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The wind also brings me scents of all that blooms—lilac through my bedroom window, carrying with it the memories of many springs that mark my journey; the smell of mint, freed by the cat walking through, crushing it, loosening the fragrance.

And the wind also brings me fear—the fear that accompanies memories of recent and past fire seasons. Memories of the fires, raging through our forest, threatening our town and houses come with the wind.  The thought of animals losing their homes, their food, and their lives lingers. Summer has become full of anxiety for me.

We make preparations—cleaning pine needles, leaves, dead branches away from our houses. We “weed whack,” mow, and clean out wood debris under our decks and porches. We wander around our homes, thinking like fire, wondering what could feed it.  We remove any possible fuel. We screen our vents against flying embers.  We prepare. We hope. We prepare some more.

We pack our “to go” bags, keeping a full tank of gas in our cars and trucks. We pack a little bit of cash, food, and camping supplies, just in case.  We don’t yet have a plan about where to go if the need arises.  Fire doesn’t tell us beforehand, where it may head.

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As this constantly looming potential brings definite anxiety to me, I sometimes allow it to take  me away from enjoying the moment I now occupy.  There seems to be few safe places with the advent of increasing climate change. My daughter recently experienced a tornado in her neighborhood in New Orleans. A friend this year had jars thrown from a shelf during a California earthquake. Another friend is running from flash flooding. Each  part of the country seems to have its own challenge.

In wondering how I am going to navigate this growing reality, I am reminded that I can prepare, but I cannot control what happens on a larger scale. So, putting my hands on my heart I give myself a hug and feel what is happening this minute. I feel the soft evening breeze now. I smell the lilac scent now. I am alive and safe now. This awareness of how we are, now, will calm a sensitive nervous system.  So, as the sun sets, bringing with it an evening calm and needed sleep, I allow any anxiety that I have allowed to accumulate, to leave with the receding wind; the soft breezy residue carrying me into sleep.

To learn more about our Firewise program and make your home more safe, visit nfpa.org, or contact [email protected], to keep informed about local efforts.