Natural disasters are great levelers — no pity for those who have no resources, no respect for wealth or importance.
Having been chosen by the vagaries of wind and weather to suffer the worst wildfire in California history, we are trying to catch our breath. That itself is a feat, trying not to leap off precipices until we have a pretty good idea of the landing situation. Some, I fear, are ready to jump, hinting at building on land being considered for open space, threatening the county’s “green” image. We have to keep in mind what kind of a place this was before the fire and not jump back 40 years. Those who would consider expanding our urban boundaries will have to prepare for a pushback from the environmentalists.
Santa Rosans, the lucky and the unlucky, are still in the phase where we are pondering whose voices to listen to and thus far we aren’t sure of anything — except it’s definitely not the ones who holler “bulls—t” at town meetings.
End of sermon.
It’s extremely important, particularly for the kids, to tell our stories now — what happened to us on that night, on the day we went back to see our house, on the time we had three other families, four cats and two dogs sleeping in our safe space.
Professionals are telling us, via media, that we absolutely need to tell our stories and to listen to others. There are counselors ready to talk with children and teens as the schools reconvene. They will tell them that what happened is too important not to be told.
Let’s talk it up until we’ve heard it all, from everyone — the horrific, the heroic and the uplifting. Some are so positive you can hardly believe it.
If holding good thoughts can get us through the standing ruins and acres of ashes that are the grim reminders of what has happened here, we need to collect those thoughts, treasure them and come back to them when challenged.
So, with a bow toward both Pollyanna and Norman Vincent Peale, I offer just a couple of many examples of positive thinking in times of great stress.
At the head of the list, at least thus far, I would put the comment made by Martha McCullough soon after she and husband, John, learned that their Mark West Springs ranch home was gone.
I met Martha a week ago, on her way to lunch at Wild Oak Saddle Club. “We’re homeless,” she said — not sadly at all, more like she was announcing a forthcoming trip to Paris.
“They say it’s good to experience new things as we grow older,” she said, leaning on her cane. “And I’ve never been homeless before.”
Another “homeless” friend put it like this: “I wept for two days at the thought of rebuilding. And then I said to myself, ‘No, we’re not going to REbuild. We are going to build.’ And I haven’t cried since.”
It’s the simple difference between trying to recapture the past and doing something new and exciting.
Still another, a widow, had been preparing to downsize before the firestorm took her family home.