Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Fire! I've been told never to use an exclamation point in my writing unless I'm yelling, "Fire!" So I'll say it again, "Fire!"

New Mexico is burning. We are drier than anyone can remember in recent history. The moisture content of the trees and brush burning near Los Alamos was 3%, per the fire chief. Our overall humidity has been under 10% for days. The desert is brown, our lawns are brown. One spark from a match, an engine exhaust, a tossed cigarette, fireworks, or lightning and up we go into flames.

Yet the governor and mayor say they can't ban the sale of fireworks, unless the state legislature changes the law. A classic example of industry lobbying gone astray—once again. Officials are pleading with TV viewers not to use fireworks anywhere, and attend large public displays instead. How can we know those are safe? How important are fireworks when the next thing that may be ablaze is your home? Come on, folks, look at the big picture.

I have my fire list ready, my plans for what to take with me when fire erupts. It is pretty small: credit cards, passports, phone and charger, a small container of important documents, and a pair of sneakers. We have our computers backed up off-site, and our recent photos are backed up as well. Folks say they'd grab their photos first thing, but they're not so important to me. If I have time, I'll grab my cameras, the German wall clock and my grandmother's clock, and my cache of funky earrings---because these things would make me feel at home if all else is lost. I've taken a photographic inventory of my home, which is backed up on my computer.  How else can I prepare?

But how can anyone prepare for a total loss of one's home, everything wiped clean, foundation cluttered with rubble or ashes? It would be a chance for a fresh start, but without the grounding of shared history, tangible evidence of memories. It might be a tornado in Kansas or a fire in New Mexico or a flood in Minot. 

I've reached an age where letting go of the tangibles might not be so traumatic, but you never know till you've been there. Please, God, not me!


  1. Maybe there's hope: according to the 2011 National Seasonal Assessment Workshop for the Western States, Alaska, and Hawaii -- "The monsoon or summer thunderstorm season is expected to be robust and roughly on time...initial indications suggest a strong overall focus during the entire July to September time frame. Confidence in the outlook for the Southwest is high." But we should go ahead and do our rain dance anyway!

  2. High tension living in a tinderbox. It's the same here in Tucson, although I'm seeing clouds and feeling some humidity in the air today. Hoping...

    Yes, disposing of excess possessions (and I mean almost everything) is cleansing. We did it when we moved from Albuquerque, but having a fire do it for you isn't the way to go.

    Sending wet thoughts your way.

  3. Yes, rain is what we need. I'm gathering feathers and body paint for the rain dance. I have a drum, just need someone to play it.Or I'll play it while you dance.

  4. You play your drum while I dance, I'll play my flute while you dance, and the rains will come.

  5. Holy Smokes! (no pun intended) But we have been having so much rain here in FLA, the ground is saturated. It rains every single day. Wish I could send some of it your way!

  6. We've talked about the cost of a pipeline to direct water from the flooded areas to New Mexico. And unfortunately NM is uphill from FLA.

  7. I hope the fires are going out by now. Y'all really have been under siege by fire, from what I've seen on TV and heard from friends.