|Image courtesy of the original Lorax film.|
And yep. Evacuating a forest fire looks and feels
like this. I feel ya' Humming Fish. I really do.
I grew up in the tinder box that is the forests of Southern California, which make the news yearly due to devastating forest fires. These events scarred my psyche, giving me nightmares about tsunamis of flames engulfing my home and killing my pets. My nightmares and reality have made me hyper-sensitive, like a wild dog who can smell fire before anyone else.
I remember a few times as a child, watching the flames climb up from the valley below, sirens blasting, smoke choking the air. Panic. Packing what we could into the car, not sure if we'd ever see our home again. My home was like a family member, keeper of all my memories and secrets. Toys forgotten, books left behind, everything I ever knew could be gone in a flash. We would often evacuate in minutes, racing to leave before the police came door to door or via helicopter to scream “get out now, you can't stay here”. Our early exodus was before the rush of tens of thousands of residents on one winding road, rushing out, tempers flared, eyes filled with tears. The exodus was reminiscent of the scene in the original Lorax when all the furry creatures leave the town behind.
In high school, a fire started near my town over the weekend. Surely we were evacuated and school was cancelled. The fire came so close to my best friend's home that her yard was scorched, and our other friend's home was barely saved by a desperate father who helped the firefighters save his property surrounded in flame. My break from school was not enjoyable, not knowing if I had a home to go home to afterward. I remember scavenging for relics afterward, finding burnt timbers and scorched hoses, helmets and coats from the firemen. We played in the smoky embers, and filmed some silly apocalyptic film lying in the smoking dust like dead people. It was our way of dealing with things.
|The snaking flames inch towards my home|
|yep I'm two-timing yeahwrite with yeahwrite|
A few years later, being nearly the present time, I had a child, lost a job, and a bunch more random drama and decided I did not want to deal with devastating fires again, among other bothersome events that come about living where I lived. So now I live in the 'burbs with plush lawns, cement, Stepford Wives style people (ugh) but guess what? Sure a fire can still destroy my home, but it is much less likely. And I haven't had a fire nightmare since. But, I can still smell a fire no one else can, and can recognize evacuees like nobody's business.