Holy smokes Batman! NO-LITERALLY! Southern Oregon WAS actually engulfed in smoke and flames this past week! I had this super cute post written about our family trip to Seattle and how much we love to travel and blah, blah, blah, but that all seems ridiculous after seeing what is happening on the west coast right now. At last count, there was roughly 85 active wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington with at least 35 dead. Last week, we went to Seattle for 5 days, with the intention of making connections and seeing some cool stuff, and we did! For one day. Then we got a call at 6:30 AM that the Slater Fire had raced 15 miles overnight and was currently about 3 miles from the farm we call “home” for the grow season. We spent the 7 hour drive in agony….praying for our friends, praying for our farm, praying for most of the “important” things we own that were in our trailer. Eventually, that fear ceased and gave way to horror as we drove through the orange skies of several other fires.
Our car was silent, which is something that you never experience when you have kids that are awake, as we took in the devastation that was occurring in front of our very eyes. The smoke was so thick that the sun was a red ball and it smelled like we were having a campfire IN our van. We arrived in Cave Junction in record time to a town that we could not even recognize through the smoke. Thankfully we had made it in time to save our most precious documents and belongings for our business, and then we all hunkered down for the night at Willow Billy Farms, not knowing if we would be evacuated from the area overnight. It was a humbling experience to look out across our acreage that night, the seeds that we had lovingly hand planted and tended to for the past several months, and wonder if they would succumb to the fierce orange blaze that was creeping down the mountain ridges just a mile from our farm. We all took turns keeping watch for the flames and we all worried and prayed together for a favorable outcome for us and the hundreds of cannabis farms in our area and all the areas threatened by wildfires.
What EXACTLY is my point in all this? I’m sure you’ve been through a life changing experience yourself that really made you examine your life to see what was most important. In that 7 hour drive when I was preparing myself to lose most of my treasured items, I slowly felt peace because I realized that my most precious items were in the car with me. I had my family, my two favorite furry souls, and my favorite toothbrush/toothpaste….everything else could be bought again or mailed again at a later date (not the toothbrush though because Sonicare discontinued that one!). The other thing that I realized is that anyone can be a hero. I watched the members of this community go from gas pump attendants, cooks, grocery store clerks, even the MAYOR, to real life, bonafide heroes! Cave Junction is a small town (population 1883), but their heart is huge and there was not one person who was not doing their part, some by donating, braving the flames and smoke to keep stores/restaurants open, serving the displaced or firefighters, or fighting the fires. Just because you aren’t on the front lines, doesn’t mean you can’t/aren’t helping your community.
So even though this has been the longest, scariest week of my life, it has also been the most beautiful. I will never forget the feelings I have felt, the bonding that has occurred, the awe that has been inspired, and the lives that have been sacrificed. It has truly been life defining experiencing these wildfires. Many have lost their homes, their livelihood, and even worse, lives have been lost. The west coast has been devasted by these fires, so if you find it in your hearts and your pockets, to do so, please consider making a tax deductible donation to redcross.org/donate