For nearly 8 weeks, our mountain has been elusive, hidden behind a smoke screen that wouldn't budge. When I finally caught a glimpse of the mountain today I think I may have fully exhaled for the first time in months.
Our fire took so much from us, and it's impossible to weigh the relative significance or value of different things that we've lost. But life without our "true north" has affected me more than I expected. For
Mt. Shasta is our beacon. In the distance, it stands as testimony to our place in the world. It tells the story of our seasons. It snags clouds as they go by and creates unique works of art in the sky with each new gust of wind. Without the mountain in plain sight every day I felt a bit lost and unsettled. Without foothills and mountains for reference, it felt as if our city had somehow come untethered and was floating in space....smoke-choked, hazy space.
The mountain has changed since I last saw Her. She's still a tad obscured with smoke. She looked a bit tired and beat up. I almost didn't recognize Her. She had changed somehow. And then I realized She had two months of summer snowmelt since I last saw Her.
During the past two months we've evacuated, watched over 1,000 homes burn, repopulated and become BFF's with PurpleAir. Funerals were held, we sifted through ashes, we cut down thousands of hazardous trees. We made thank you cards for firefighters and police, we've delivered cookies to the Forest Service and PG&E, and watched highways close, open, and close again as fires devoured the forests around us. We've come up with snappy hashtags (#StrongerThanCarr, #ShastaStrong), we've embraced FEMA and cursed FEMA, and we've watched baseball games and cross country practice get canceled week after week while the smoke lingered. At some point during the past two months, every last one of us have grieved, given thanks, and been left speechless by both beauty and destruction.
We're a little changed. More bruised. Maybe more cautious and more jumpy. But also more grateful. More compassionate and more giving.
I wonder if She recognized us when the smoke cleared today.
|Mt. Shasta, August 2017.|