Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Update on the Las Conchas/Los Alamos fire

Wednesday:  the day dawns beautifully in Albuquerque, cool, a slight breeze off the river, wild Mexican chickens - lean and mean - squawk madly while a Cooper's Hawk soars overhead. The tiniest chicks are hidden under chamisa bushes and prickly pear cactus pads. Binky is very happy living in Albuquerque where she has a walled backyard inundated with birds and lizards.

The whole town of Los Alamos was evacuated Monday afternoon. I was very happy to have been in the first wave of volunteer evacuees on Sunday night. So far the flames have stayed south of Lab property, with a few spot fires quickly put out, then it climbed up the back side of the ski area to burn over the top. The town is not yet out of the woods (so to speak!) and people are not allowed back in yet. About a thousand people have not evacuated and the police cannot force them to leave. One man was interviewed. He thinks there will be looters and he's staying put. They showed him on the TV watering his lawn with a little sprinkler. Looters? Wow. A fire can burn everything you own to the ground, and kill you too, and you're worried about looters? Does the man not have insurance? I am often astonished at how other people think, and what they are most worried about in life. Nothing I own, not one thing, is worth risking my life for. But having lost everything once before, I guess I now have a very different attitude about stuff.

After the last fire, when my son and I were truly homeless, all our possessions stuffed into a single minivan, my friend Laura came out of her house waddling under the weight of a huge box. She said "Here's some stuff. It's un-American to be without stuff!". I laughed till I almost cried. How American this guy is, this man risking his life to protect his stuff from looters. Looters who couldn't possibly be noticed (?) by the hundreds of police, firemen, and national Guard troops in town to protect everyone's property. Clearly the poor man has trust issues. I hope his descendants appreciate the risks he's taken to protect what he will eventually leave them in his will.

As for today, the fire is not under control, but it is also not as threatening as it was, nor are they quite as worried about the town going down in flames. No one is yet allowed back into town, but I suspect by Friday or Saturday, people will begin to go home. Surely life will be back to normal by Tuesday of next week.

My life at the moment is centered around carrying on with the trip planned last October for the 4th of July weekend. The Mountaineer's Club has an annual hut trek in Colorado. I have my pillow and sleeping bag in the car, a backpack I just keep in the car for emergencies with a first aid kit, water, space blanket, rain poncho and the like, and my hiking boots. All I really need to purchase are some long pants, socks, and a few other small items. The food I'd purchased for the trip is still at home, so will have to make another trek to the store. We are alive, our property is intact, life is good once again.

And it all hinges on the winds staying reasonably calm for the next few days. They are predicted to be quite high this afternoon......

Stay tuned.