Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Home fires burning

It's 7:30 a.m. and I've been up for two hours already, Thea is melting down and Liam has wrapped himself in Christmas garland beads and is sitting in the dress-up box.

We are all a half-a-bubble off plumb today because a big fire is burning in Homer, and of course, Matt is right in the middle of it all. The fire is currently 65 acres, several structures threatened and is east of Homer, but weeks of warm, dry temperatures make this about as bad as fire weather can be. So when the fire broke out, I started monitoring the fire radio to hear what was happening. That always sets the kids on edge. It's such a high-intensity thing, listening to dozens of people try to battle the impossible. And by the end of the night, they were both frazzled.

Liam especially is having a hard time with fire season this year. Last night, as I put Thea to sleep, I told him to draw what he was feeling about the fire. Not only did he do that, he wrote Matt a card, using real letters, completely without my help except for the word message. Here's what he wrote:

Dyr Datt I heop u get ziz mes(sage) to nit (heart) Liam

I was pretty impressed. I think he doesn't know he could read at this point if he tried.

The fire is just another chapter in the spring manic tempo in Homer. I call Matt "ghost guy" these days because I see evidence of his existence - clothes, dishes - but the actual guy ... not so much. The exception to this was last weekend, when I got totally Mothers Dayed - flowers, breakfast in bed, a day virtually free of domestic responsibility and the icing on the cake ... XtraTuf boots. I had this feeling like it was the calm before the storm, and I was right. With no rain in the forecast, I'm pretty sure we won't see much of Matt for days.

One of the hardest thing about having a fire burning in your back yard when you are a former reporter and firefighter is that I really, really want to be involved. Last night, I found myself literally pacing around watching the column of smoke. Maybe next year. But for now, I am sequestered to caretaker. Still, when friends called me asking for an update, I spread a little FireWise. If there was a fire burning a couple miles from my house right now, you'd better believe I'd be heading to the store to buy hose and sprinklers, cleaning up dead grass from around my home and looking critically at the fuels in the area. Because when it gets close enough to really worry, it's too late to do any of that.

Anyway, back to preparing lunches, wiping noses, and comforting worried 5-year-olds. Let's hope they get a handle on things today.

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