I went to retrieve my dad last Monday night. Nine days have passed and the area fires surround us. Smoke hovers, winds blow, people pack. Fires blaze in all directions, but the town I live in is still the safety with the farthest fire 15 miles away and across the Columbia River. Thirty miles north trees are engulfed and ash float the wind currents. By the time you read this post, sixteen days will have gone by.
Yesterday I wait for one of our sons to call. Fire is on the move and resources are scant. It was still early morning and I hear his truck and horse trailer grate over our cattle guard. I pull on my boots and meet him at the door. He’d been up since 4:00 am, watching the news, couldn’t sleep so he loaded three horses and drove an hour to my house for safe keeping. Ah, the grand-horses have come to play. They are safe. For Now. But there are two more that need to make the trip.
We hook up my horse trailer and I follow behind. I pray while driving, asking God for divine protection. For rain. For safety as our reservation and neighboring towns are scorching in Northeast Washington. Omak has started evacuations. Nespelem also. Okanogan is next. Perhaps Riverside. I have family in both towns on the Colville Reservation. My hear sinks. I pray. I beg. I trust.
We get to our son’s place and park by the horses. But first I have to find my year-old granddaughter. I need hugs and to know she’s okay. I need to see her innocent smile. To know our daughter-in-law and her family are safe.
Our son loads the other two horses and an 1100 lb. round hay bale. We visit a bit more. A truck cruises down the lane and our other son steps out with a buddy. They’ve come to help move farming equipment down by the creek in an already harvested field. Another young man comes to help. They come to help because that’s what we do in times of need.
I head home and unload the horses. They fight and squeal with my four over the fence. The pony is the loudest. Showing his family he’s nothing to recon with. They acquaint themselves most of the day and around dinner time settle in and begin to relax.
Now is the waiting game. Will the winds pick up? Shift? Rush our way? Will our son and his family survive yet another fire? (Last year a fire broke out and crept up their back yard. Last year firefighters camped at their ranch. This year there is no one to help.) Right now our entire county, Ferry County, is on evacuation level 1 (make a list to pack just in case) because there is no help. We have too many fires in Washington. Idaho. Oregon. California. Our neighbors are at Evacuation level 2 (Pack and be ready to leave) or level 3 (grab those bags you packed and get out!)
Family is threatened. Friends are threatened. Creator God, I know you are good all the time. I know you have a purpose. I know you are in control. Please Lord, bring the rain. This is real, not a county song.
Since I began this post, fires have grown, intensified. The flames that threaten our son’s home is a mere three miles away. I’m thankful his horses are here. More counties have evacuated. Homes have burned. Firefighters have lost their lives. There is nothing I can do, but open up our ranch. Donate food, blankets, clothing. Be ready in case lightning strikes or fires cross lines.
In the meantime, life goes on. I edit, write, play with grand-kids, watch the hay come in, track the fires.
And so we wait. We pray. We assist. We trust.