Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Coffee and Lies #139 Smoke gets in your eyes
Stop dragging my heart around.
Last year I elaborated on the desperate look on the faces of those affected by the wildfires. This year those expressions capture two additional emotions. First there is the tragic death of three firefighters and the horrific reality of the fourth who has sustained burns over a majority of his body. Scenery and property are big losses, but human death trumps that every time. The other emotion is anger that this happened “again.” The businesses that were only just recovering from the loss of business in 2014 find themselves once again knocked to their knees by a wildfire.
Last year the expression was one of sadness, this time it is more frustration.
Following the fires last year there was a common hope and spirit to rebuild. That rebuilding was hard. It took more and took longer than anyone thought. Now as many face that task once more they now know exactly how hard it will be. It will be intimidatingly hard. That is a part of the look in the eyes of some locals. Here we fricking go again…..
Tourism is a world of “strike while the iron is hot.” By the time the smoke clears (literally) the iron will have cooled down with kids back in school. Imagine that your business depends on eleven weeks of summer tourism and that you lose three of those weeks. Your expenses are based on eleven weeks of revenue and slashing your revenue by thirty percent means another year of big losses.
Back to back years with big fires makes it hard to tell either tourists or the bank that this is an anomaly. Our culture of sensationalizing the news only fans the flames of fear that the whole state is about to burn to the ground.
We visited this past weekend and as expected our place was intact. The ghost town that was Winthrop was spooky. We talked to some of our friends and sympathized with their plight. We are lunch at the cabin and when the winds shifted as expected the only blue sky we had seen all day was gone. The orange-pink haze set in and it was hard to breathe. We gathered some key items just in case and returned to Seattle the same day.
I am not equipped to fight fires and am ill equipped to help with the emotional toll. I love the place and love the people. I am searching my soul for ways I can help.