Friday, August 20, 2010

Maybe I Don't Get It


We got rain today. A lot of rain. The good soaking kind that forces me to drive to work and which in turn drives people to a museum in droves. For most people the rain was a mild inconvenience. For others, the precipitation came as a relief. “We need the rain so badly,” the latter group said all day. “The fire danger was so high!”

Maybe I don’t get it. And knowing me, that’s probably the case, so let me preface this by saying that I don't mean to be insensitive. I just sometimes wonder what all the worry's about.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been dry around here. The water level in the lake is worryingly low. And frankly the wildfires of 2007 just weren’t quite long enough ago for most people around here.

I didn’t experience the Ham Lake Fire of 2007 first hand. I wasn’t evacuated from my home for 12 days. Although I have plenty of fire memories, I haven’t had any personally traumatic fire experiences.

When it’s dry outside, I notice, kind of like noticing that it’s raining or that the sky is blue. But it’s rare that the dryness of the environment seems truly ominous to me. In fact, the last time the world seems poised for wildfire was the spring of 2007, when my walks through the woods behind my college campus seemed reminiscent of walking through a tinder box. Low and behold, less than a week after a rather creepily crackly and dry walk through woods, the Ham Lake Fire started 100 miles away from where I’d hiked.

When I was in college, I interviewed Senator Mark Dayton (yes, the very same Senator Dayton running for Minnesota Governor) for an article in weekly student newspaper. I asked him the typical college newspaper questions: what did he think about job prospects, health insurance, etc. To one my questions, he responded, “Plan for your future, but don’t worry about it.”

Up here in the woods, we all have sprinkler systems installed on our property and cabins. We try to be environmentally responsible. We hope people will heed the words of Smokey Bear and do their best to prevent wildfires.

And that’s pretty much all we can do. Worrying about the rain won’t make it rain. We simply have to be ready for what could happen, but we can’t devote all of today to worrying about what might happen.

1 comment:

  1. I think it's sort of a modern equivalent of a rain dance. And, once you've lived through something like that, you tend to be hypersensitive.

    For me, it's flooding. I currently live on a flood plain. I've dealt with some serious floods all my life, but in 2007, we had two major floods within 6 weeks. In the first, I lost my car -- water came up so fast that, in the time it took me to run down 3 flights of stairs, it was too late. In the second flood, we had no power or heat for well over a week. Many people evacuated, but we stayed put -- where am I going to go with an elderly mother and 3 cats? Although the law states the local Red Cross shelters have to accept pets, the ones here refused.

    So, whenever there's a lot of rain, I'm running down to check the brook every 2 hours, and move the car as soon as it gets to a certain point. I boil 10-20 gallons of water, stock up on batteries, etc.

    Fortunately, it hasn't hit that badly again since 2007, but you never know. And I can't afford to lose another car. So I'm overly worried and overly cautious.

    If I lived in a fire-prone zone, I'd probably be overly worried and cautious about fire.

    As I"m house hunting, I'm checking in the town hall survey maps to make sure nothing I like is on a flood plain. Not doing this again.

    By the way, thanks for all your support in this hell I"m going through with harassing landlords.

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