It was my first time ever calling 911. I already know I turn into jelly when emergencies crop up but, surprisingly, I felt calm as I reached for the phone. Even remembered my own address and phone number when the dispatcher asked!
Our backyard borders a field of dry grass. Every year a small herd of sheep graze there and it’s a treat to watch them and the lambs they produce. We really do count them! And they really do follow the leader no matter what. Monday morning, instead of sheep, I see smoke and hear fire crackling. Is the owner burning off his pasture? I walk out back hoping to spot someone holding a hose, but no. GET THE PHONE! Five minutes later sirens are heading my way. Yay!
The brush fire continued to gain momentum as the North wind pushed it down the field. The sky filled with smoke as emergency vehicles gathered one-by-one along the road. (I stopped counting at 6) Side Note: I was surprised – and delighted – when a pony-tailed woman climbed down from behind the wheel of the first rig to respond. I hate to admit it but, yes, apparently I still expect firefighters to be men. Shame on me!
Now I’m no stranger to the fire dept. My husband woke me up on Christmas morning years ago, “Get up, the fire dept. is on the way!” What? He’d gotten up earlier to warm the house with our cozy wood stove. It was our first and we loved it. He wanted to make it a perfect morning for the family so built a boy-scout-good-one. Then, a roar behind the wall that was now hot to the touch. (Woodstove 101: not cleaning the damn chimney before winter MIGHT result in the flue fire.) Disaster was averted and clearly documented by my then 16-year-old daughter, who asked the young firefighter to strike a pose for posterity. He smiled at the request, and Christy’s been the queen of photo ops since. Now, can you just image waking up with a fire truck in your driveway on Christmas morn? Before coffee?
All’s quiet now across the western front, my backyard. 26 ewes, 2 rams and 3 homes are safely back to routine. Last night I climbed the fence like a curious teenager to view the blackened remains up close. Investigation will hopefully reveal what or who started the blaze that could’ve ended up in disaster. Had the wind changed direction our yards would be as black as this field right now — not to mention our homes.
The blackened swath is a vivid reminder of how reliable nature is, always going about her own type of business no matter what’s happening to her humans. Even with the fire, that reminder is a welcomed relief from the constant barrage of pandemics and politics attacking my head this year.
There’s nothing like the sound of firefighters coming to the rescue to remind you what the term “Essential Workers” means.