Chelan, WashingtonThis year has been unique in a horrible sort of way. We are used to California having fires every year when the Santa Ana Winds kick in, bringing scorching heat that dries out the vegetation, making it vulnerable to the smallest spark. Once the fire starts, they are difficult to contain because of the same winds that started the problem in the first place. We hear of these fires every year…sadly it can seem almost routine…even though it shouldn’t. This year is different, however. This year the whole western coast seems to be on fire. The Redwoods are in danger. Washington, Idaho, and Oregon are also going up in smoke.

The Pacific Northwest has always been the rainforest of the United States, receiving rain approximately 155 days a year. Since Wyoming gets snow much more often than rain, and in recent years, we haven’t received as much of that as we used to, suffice it to say that we don’t even come close to the amount of rain the Pacific Northwest normally gets. This year however, has found the Pacific Northwest oddly void of rainfall. Wyoming, by a stark contrast, has had a very rainy summer. As someone who doesn’t like days West on Fireand days of dreary rainfall, that has been a little much for me, but then when I look at the west with its fires, and the rest of the United States largely void of fires, I have to be thankful for the rain. It seems that the only place that is getting very little rain is the west coast.

I have looked at fire maps many times over the years, but I don’t ever recall the maps having such a lopsided look to them. Nevertheless, that is the look of the current fire map. There is only one significant fire that is not in the west. Our skies are filled with smoke that has rolled in from the west. The mountain is pale behind a curtain of smoky haze, and everything smells burnt…and I’m not even near a fire. I cannot begin to imagine how bad the smoke and the smells are in the thick of the fires. Town after town is being evacuated. Homes, hopes, and dreams are being lost…not to mention lives. It just tears at my heart to think of the devastation to some of the most beautiful rainforest areas of our nation. Places like the Redwoods really could be gone forever, and I can’t begin to imagine how long it will take to bring back the beautiful, moss and fern filled areas of the imagerainforest.

With family and friends all along the west coast, I have been in constant prayer for protection for them, and especially for rain with no lightning. There are some years when fires are so bad, that people can’t wait for summer to end, hoping that the cooler weather will slow down the devastation. I have a feeling that the only thing that will do that will be winter snow or rain, so for their sake, I will agree with their prayers. We have had bad fire years here too, but it never seemed to get quite as bad as it has on the west coast this year. Fires anywhere are awful, but when they are in an area known for it rain, it is simply shocking.

Every family has their experts at different things. Some have people who work at banks, some insurance agents, some doctors, some nurses, and the list goes on. These are the people you just naturally call when you have a problem that fits into their area of expertise. Our family is no exception to that rule, We have people from many areas of expertise that we can call on, and some that show up even if we didn’t call on them. That is where my cousin Clyde comes in. Now the time he showed u without our calling him, I really must clarify by saying that someone did call him, it just wasn’t us. Bob and I lived out in the country, and a neighbor say smoke coming from our place, and she called the fire department. That’s where Clyde comes in. Clyde was the Natrona County Fire Chief for many years, before he retired.

I was at work, when I got a call form Bob saying that we “needed to go home” right away, because we had a fire. That is not the best way to find out that all of your belongings might be toast. Bob came and picked my up, and we rushed out to our place to see what the damages were. As we pulled up, we saw that the flames were higher than our house, so we couldn’t really tell what all was involved. We could see that our Jeep was a gonner. Clyde walked up to us as we got out of the car, and said, “Hi Bob, I wondered if we had your place here…Where’ve you been dumping your ashes?” I was stunned at that moment. Apparently, Bob had been taking our ashes out of the stove, and after several days in the ash bucket, he was dumping them on the ground outside of our yard…but, probably a little too close to a pile of junk wood we were cutting up and using for our wood stove, and that pile of wood was just on the other side of the fence from my Jeep.

Bob explained that the ashes were cold…he had felt the bucket. Clyde explained that with the wind that was blowing it had fanned the ashes and ignited the flames. In the end, the Jeep and the junk wood were the only things we lost, but we were sure glad that we had Clyde in the family. He would have given the same care and concern to any fire he fought, but it was comforting to know that when we really needed a fireman, Clyde was there. Today is Clyde’s birthday, and we want to thank him for all he has done for this county, and for us. Happy birthday Clyde!! We love you!!

Kids, young and old have a fascination with fire trucks. Maybe it is the idea of a real superhero that draws us to them. Or maybe it is the siren that gets our attention. Maybe its the cool truck with all its great equipment. It could be the excitement of the job they do, or the thought of how it must feel to rescue someone from certain death.

No matter what the draw is, it seems to draw us all. When a fire truck goes down the street with lights flashing and sirens blaring, everyone looks and starts wondering what has happened. You scan the sky for smoke and when you see none, you assume it must have been a car accident. Your thoughts wander to the person is serious need of help right now, and inside you say a prayer for their safety.

But for kids, it is the dream of someday being a firefighter…a hero, or super hero. I know of very few little boys who don’t want to be a fireman at sometime in their young life. My grandsons have all talked about ir at one time or another. Girls may not want that so often, but my niece Lindsay went so far as getting a degree in fire science and working for the Forest Service in Hill City, South Dakota for two summers.

The kids get to meet the firefighters at school, and field trips, as well as other events designed to promote safety and awareness, so they get to see how important the job is. In this picture, my grandson Christopher is standing on the seat of the truck. The look on his face shows that he is on cloud nine. He has always likes things mechanical, and the fire truck is the ultimate in gadgetry. Kids today are very used to and comfortable with gadgetry. They thrive on it. The more tech savvy something is, the better. Add that to the whole fireman/firetruck thing and kids are set.

We all look up to the firefighters. They run in to protect and save us when we need them the most. They are our superheroes, and we will always look when they go by, wondering what emergency they are heading to this time. We see them as exciting and brave, courageous and strong. And little kids everywhere looking at them as exactly what they want to be when they grow up.

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