Raging Fires and Dolly Parton

When I was a 'know-it-all' teenager, I remember my dad laying in bed on the weekends and

listening to news on his transistor radio.

I thought he was odd. Why not just watch tv? My dad passed away from alcoholism about 5 years ago. We hadn't spoken in the 2 years before his passing. When he died, I wanted nothing.

My mom kept his radio. On several occasions I almost threw it away. Useless.

Then October 8th, 2017 blew in with great force.

At about 10:00 pm Sunday night I sat on the couch with my main man watching football. We could hear the wind whipping outside.

He left my house around 10:30 pm and headed to the fire station. His shift wasn't supposed to start until the next morning, but the wind was causing concern.

I went to bed that night oblivious.

A friend called at 4:00 am. Fires were spreading. Fire had already burned down her grandparents house in north Santa Rosa. Complete shock started to sink in.

From my bathroom window I could see a red glow not too far away. Is that seriously fire? Red flames were lighting up the morning sky.

No phone service. No tv. No gas. Nothing.

Frantically, I pulled my dad's transistor radio from the garage.

For the next week, with limited connection to the outside world, this radio was my lifeline.

I like to think my dad pulled through. He was with me.

I can't look at his radio without tearing up.

For a week after the fires the radio didn't leave my side.

I don't think anyone in Sonoma County will ever be the same after this natural disaster. What do you even pack in a suitcase, on a moments notice, if you're evacuated? Everyone was on edge. The animals knew something was up too.

Here's my mustache firefighter hero. He kept our community updated through daily Facebook live videos of the Pocket Fire.

As the fire threat lessened, the air quality became more toxic.

My dog was trapped in the house for almost two weeks. Chocolate Labs need walks. Lots of walks to release pent up energy. I loaded her in my car and we escaped to Dillon Beach.

This pic sums up her jubilation: 'I'm FINALLY FREEEEEEE TO RUUUN!!!'

I went ahead and kept my annual Pumpkin Carving Party on the calendar. Fires had consumed everyone's mental energy. I figured pumpkin carving would be a good distraction for both me and my friends.

What do you think of our creations? Mine is the Yoda. Next year I'm going for a much easier classic Jack-O-Lantern look.

As the threat of fires continued to lessen, I became more consumed with Halloween. In just one week I had assembled FOUR different Halloween costume changes?!?!? Halloween was my distraction.

I roped Lexi into my Halloween frenzy. She competed in the yearly Healdsburg Howl-O-Ween dog costume parade.

Good news is her pumpkin hat stayed on during the parade AND orange is her color.

Bad news is...

She lost to Dolly Parton.

I mean, I get it...Dolly IS iconic but look at her poor loser face!!!

Want to know what's even cuter than a dog dressed up for Halloween?

A little boy, dressed in a firefighter costume, at the annual Firefighter Pancake Breakfast.

I think this photo might be my fav pic of 2017.

First responders risked their lives and even their own homes to keep our communities safe. I'm so thankful future generations have these types of heroes to look-up to.

It was jaw dropping to see how many people turned up to the breakfast. The line wrapped around the fire station and extended down the main street of town. Thousands came out to support local fire fighters. In the wake of such devastation it truly is miraculous seeing everyone band together.

I feel like no amount of words will ever sum up the sheer magnitude of the October fires.

I'm still shell shocked. We all are.

Yet, Mother Nature is never at a loss of poetic wonders.

One minute she rages ferociously and the next she softens. She soothes with mesmerizing leaves drifting down from trees and vibrant bursts of fall colors.

Temps are dropping here in Sonoma County. Rain is on the forecast. I'm hunkered down and spending my free time binge watching "Stranger Things".

I find refuge in my cozy bed.

My little pup huddles close by and we share heat.

I have so much to be thankful for this month.


© 2020 Sheila Jane Co.