We’ll be leaving this little two room cottage soon, moving to a larger rental next week. It’s been a place for us to retreat and regroup, heal our wounds these last six months. We’ll miss it.
There’s a small pond through the woods. The bullfrogs chuckle and moan all night. We’ve had a lot of rain this year, good for frogs.
And fireflies. i’ve never seen so many. They rise from the grass at twighlight, a living net of liminal phosphorescent green. By full dark they’ve clustered in the trees, stitching them with Christmas lights. On a night like tonight, before the full moon appears, the whole world sparkles with stars, above and below.
Somehow our wedding album survived, found in the burn pile four weeks after the fire. The clean up crew called me Friday to say they found it in the front yard as they were filling up dumpster number four, with a mass of undifferentiated black muck. Said they left it for us on the wood pile.
It had been in the living room with the worst of the blaze. Soaked with fire hoses and foam, then shoveled out into the snow, where it got rained on over Christmas and New Years.
The soggy album came apart in my hands. One edge of the book was melted together. But because it contained real photographs, black and white RC silver prints, the images survived. I peeled them from the pages with a blade and laid them out to dry.
Many in the pictures are no longer with us. A true memento mori. And yet so many are still close friends. And family. All older now.
Thanks, John Strader, for taking such wonderful photos that sweltering summer day. And thanks for taking them the old fashion way.
I’m 58 at this writing. I can brag about my daughters.
Our trip to California this summer was for Amanda’s wedding to Scott. Was a great trip and a really fun wedding. We’re happy for both of them. Amanda started out teaching the kids of migrant farm workers for AmeriCorps, living in a cinder block room next to the strawberry fields. They’re now living in the Philippines, a teacher and a guidance counselor.
On the drive to the venue – next to Lassen National Park, 20 miles from the nearest town – we got a text from Amanda saying “Call me when you get to the fire trucks!” This is not a good thing. Especially in California.
The weekend before, Amanda’s wedding planner got married herself. She had to rush the minister to perform the rights before the guests arrived. A wildfire was bearing down on them, and forced them all to evacuate. So it seemed like we were gearing up for a repeat.
A crew was there with trucks and flashing lights, and helicopters that emptied out the pond at the ranch where the wedding was held, to dump on the fire across the street. No more pond, but no more fire. Fair enough.
Emily was right in the middle of it. She’s been working on fire crews in Oregon on the weekends for years. She actually had her gear in the truck, along with her bride’s maid’s dress.
Back in Oregon she’s been working a lot of weekends as a woodlands firefighter. Last week she sent these video clips from where they were cutting a fire break and setting a back burn.
It seems the whole western side of North America is on fire this summer. Just so happens the last crew she was on was all young women.
What was news to us was that Emily, at 5 feet tall and 110 pounds, beat out all the men on her certification test carrying 80 pounds of gear on a forced march. The other women on the crew had to do something comparable.
During Amanda’s ceremony, smoke still lingered on the surrounding peaks. Days later, the big Carr fire exploded to the west at Redding. She and Scott sent photos from their first day back in Manilla, of flooding from a typhoon.
Once the new kitchen started to take shape, the old swag light in the sun room really looked out of place. Cleaning out the basement, I came across the box of antique mason jars that held flowers at our wedding. Our anniversary was coming up, so it seemed a shame to throw them away.
Instead, I decided to surprise T with a new light, one that would remind us of that hot July day on the farm 19 years ago.
The jars are suspended in canning racks. There are mason jar fixtures in the center that are on dimmers. The whole thing is nested in LED string lights that turn on separately and add a nice glow.