I'm still in shock with what was a beautiful start to a day taking such a dramatic turn for the worst. Nothing could have prepared Northern California for the devastating fires that have swept the lands this past week.
Last Sunday morning was a special one for me. While Cornerstone Sonoma offered to let me host my first yoga event in their Garden Barn and word had been spreading throughout the community, I was feeling the warm welcome from many. Kevin Paris, our talented musician soothed our senses playing his acoustic guitar as we flowed between utter bliss and joyful tears.
It was a great turn-out and everything went so smoothly. As one yogi commented after saying “I wish we had this every Sunday, it felt like going to church,” I was delighted. I took the feelings of a loving, supportive community home with me and couldn’t wait to start planning the next one. It was a beautiful day…
Cut To The Evening
Later, back at home, the sun started to dip over the mountain and the weather took a shift. The wind howled and haunting sounds took me to bed. That jumpy feeling you get from watching scary movies swallowed me… Aaaaand BLACK OUT, suddenly we loose power. Candles are lit and there’s a quick shuffle around to find flash lights. I resettle myself, read our baby girl a few books (a little more for me than her I think) and tried to comfortably tuck in. We finally sleep. Just after 1:30AM I’m awakened by hearing our names being shouted outside the window with a flash of light peering past the curtains. Our neighbor, an Angel, waking us with the news that there is an entire hill side across the way is on fire and we should evacuate our home. She says to grab some things for a few nights and get out as fast as we can. She gave us a meeting place if we needed support.
My heart pounds. I see our baby-girl sleeping so soundly and take some deep breaths. I can’t even begin to describe what kind of fear sets in knowing this is not just about our safety anymore, it’s about this little human you will do anything to protect. But I quickly decide fear is not an option. It’s; think fast, keep it together and get out safely.
Erik and I make a quick plan to get down from the mountain. We need to get our renters in our Airbnb evacuated and our neighbor there who manages our property whom we couldn’t reach by phone. The drive down was daunting for many reasons… I’m focused on the winding road as there are huge branches and debris down everywhere. I can see the entire ridge to the East on fire, it’s massive. This just got even more real. We divide and conquer, pounding on the doors and yelling to get everyone out and succeed. We headed to some friends just off the square to regroup and decide what’s next. It’s approximately 2:30AM and the usual quiet streets are packed with groups congregating in various areas clearly not sure what to do.
We spend the next hour+ taking in the situation, getting opinions of neighbors (a retired fire chief being one,) and mulling it over with all our friends who’ve met here. We are well aware the smoke is getting worse, we know we have to get our three month old out of this. Erik secures a hotel in about 45 minutes toward San Fransisco for us and we take off. Roads are closed on the way out but relatively clear. An hour later, now 5:30AM we are checking in and getting our wee one tucked back in safely. I won't take you through a play by play for the next seven days as all the details are unimportant. I will tell you that I’m grateful we got out when we did as it was the best decision for our newborn and her tiny developing lungs and I’m in awe of how amazing my love, Erik, is time and time again.
I share a part of this all with you today to express extreme gratitude and heartfelt condolences. The fires are not over but after we got confirmation today that our home survived the fires and our rental property did as well, we feel so incredibly blessed. When two of the larger burning fires became one by Wednesday and the winds kicked back up we really questioned what could happen as our homes sat in the middle of it all. We prayed and we asked everyone we knew to pray for us and all those in the midst of extreme duress. It has been an emotional roller-coaster of getting notifications that things are ok and then it would all change at a moments notice. One of our closest friends lost their home like so many have. The sadness you endure for others is real, the unknown of what your own reality may be is almost paralyzing. We spent our days being consumed by updates and news hanging onto any hopeful information that came our way. Having a newborn is a godsend. They keep you in good spirits because they sense what you're feeling. I started to really loose it multiple times and Em's little lower lip curled down and I could see she was going to loose it too... I did't want that. We sang and played and were able to take a lot of down moments and relish in the joy of having her. I practiced non-attachment daily knowing that having each other in the end was all we needed and the rest is replaceable. It's NOT EASY... you think about all that you'd loose and it hits you like a brick wall. I really love our home. I really love where we've settled to start our family life. I couldn't make that go away. I did however keep praying for the best. I visualized people returning to their homes and a strong community coming together to support the process of rebuilding. That will all continue. Sonoma Country and Napa County will need a lot of love in the coming years.
Our firefighters and first responders are our hero's. The hours and effort it's taken to bring so many of them together to manage the unmanageable is unbelievable and deserving of so much support and praise. I know our family will be forever grateful for their courage and do whatever we can to join others in giving back. We have been overwhelmed with support from our families and new and old friends during this time. Erik, Em and I thank you so very much. Prayers are constant for so many of those who’ve lost everything and continue to struggle with the unknown fate of these fires. Stay strong and believe there are wonderful people all around who are coming together to support each other.
If you've been affected by the fires please sign up for disaster relief assistance at www.disasterrelief.gov
I'll work on putting together a great list but here's a place to start if you'd like to donate https://www.youcaring.com/victimsevacueesandfirstrespondersforsonomafires-977708
Little Bit Of Our Story
We, like so many others hope to get to return home soon. All my love and blessings.
NOTE: All Photos of Fires pulled from Internet resources-I take no credit and used just to show visually the Northern California Fires near Sonoma Valley of Oct. 2017.