In autumn, so that trees shed each year’s leaves, the wind is strong. Last year, it caught up a huge sheet of plastic, twirled high into a tree. It was attached so tightly, it only loosened this week! That Friday, before Thanksgiving last October, the wind was like a gale. I gave up yard-trimming, brought in the cats, and rolled back the wheelbarrow at a run. Somewhere, a grass fire started several towns away but I didn’t know. After my fiancé was home and the sun set, we settled into TV when our neighbour came to the door. She brought the eeriest news I had ever heard. She said a friend had heard about a fire and thought it was headed towards our town. Our neighbour didn’t have real information but felt we ought to know and was leaving, to stay in the city in case.
Before we could check anything the power went out; until halfway through the next day! I alerted two neighbours I knew, who hadn’t heard of danger. I felt numb at the prospect. We had left our city for country life, the year before. Ron grew up on a farm but this was our first time in a forest and the first time I had encountered the possibility of a fire. I was scared and prayed all would turn out okay but used the time wisely and went straight to work. It’s true safety is what matters and one can embrace that if they lost personal things. But this phase of life is physical. Nothing is wrong with attaching meaning to our belongings. We needn’t lose special possessions with a chance to prepare.
We didn’t know if the warning was premature or false but heeded it. Using candles, I determined what we cherished and packed into the night. I boxed photo albums, film negatives, and zippered cases of digital files on CDs. I bagged music and books that took a long time to acquire. I ensured Grandma’s dish set were padded and keep them that way. Our photo albums stay boxed too. I laid out cameras, video camera, and most important clothes. I had my engagement rings, small souvenirs from trips I’d waited a lifetime to make, and last photos of my 21 year -old cat with whom I grew up.
I insist on a regular telephone line wherever I live. It’s independent of power. Even if the well water pump stops, the land phone line works. My Christmas card list and contacts are on an excel spreadsheet I periodically print. There’s no computer in a power outage. I was annoyed my copy was old but the number for a cousin in Ottawa was current! Of course I know my parents’ and city brother’s by heart but refused to worry them without being sure. I wanted to fill in our little brother in Toronto, more removed from the situation but his cell didn’t answer. Our cousin promised to send him a text and wished us safety. Even packing on a whisper of danger, I tell someone what’s going on before an emergency can strike. It’s wise to leave information, so someone always figures out where you are.
With cat carriers, clothes, and purse standing by, at last I went to bed. I didn’t reach REM sleep, wondering if we would be advised to evacuate by an RCMP officer at our door. Our oldest car sometimes needed an hour with a battery charger, in order to start. I prayed it would help carry everything we needed if it came to fleeing. In the morning, bright enough to see around us, we kept the suitcases ready but ate and bathed with cold water we had gathered. We drove to town, where no one was worried. We searched for news when the power returned that afternoon. I had prayed with all my might that there would be no fire, or if such a fright occurred, I prayed we would come out fine.
We learned the fire was towns away and never the forest but a small grass fire. In wind like that, it was easy to believe it could blow anywhere and our neighbour was newer to town than us. Ron was dismayed by the scare and felt she had cried wolf. I said I’d rather a hypothetical warning with a lot of time to spare. My source of relief was being prepared. If we had lost our very first property, which we love; I was grateful for time to determine what we cherished, to bring.
That holiday Monday, my parents and brother came to share Thanksgiving Day with us. I told them my number one request to God was that there would be no fire at all and no terror beyond that night, wondering. I wonder how you would regard the grateful outcome. Was it a false alarm, or a wholly answered prayer?
I wish safety to all, healing to anyone who needs it: and a HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY to fellow Canadians! Wishing blessings for all of you, Carolyn.