I awoke this morning, turned on the computer, and was immediately met with this news:
Evacuations were ordered for all of Boulder Creek, including neighborhoods around Big Basin Redwoods, California’s oldest state park, as well as surrounding areas. Some 5,000 people live in Boulder Creek, a community high in the Santa Cruz mountains. The many windy, long, forested roads, some paved, some dirt, can easily become blocked during storms or fires. The orders specify which direction particular neighborhoods need to go to safely get out.
This is where I lived for 14 years before I moved to Mexico and as I check out the Facebook of various friends still living in and around that area, I read messages that friends in Bonny Doon fear the fires are too spread out and there are too few people fighting them for their house to survive. Another friend tells of spending the night in their car in a parking lot in Scotts Valley, along with numerous other Boulder Creek residents.
Boulder Creek is an old lumbering town with its residents spread out in the Redwood-covered mountains around the town. Its roads are small and twisty, many of them dirt or gravel, and evacuation in a dire situation would not be easy. Our two acres contained over a hundred hundred-year-old redwoods and the mountains around us were covered with tens of thousands more. In storms, when just one tree fell, roads could be blocked for a day or more.
For years, as I see the devastation of fires in CA, although I am not a praying woman, I have uttered little prayers for Boulder Creek. I am doing so now. I hope first of all that friends are safe, but I also hope this beautiful little village of 5,000 is safe—the old buildings, the galleries and restaurants and stores that have a charm that could not be duplicated by new construction. I hope my former home–completely constructed of redwood, including interior walls, floors, cabinets, and even the shower stall, its huge decks hanging off the side of the mountain with giant redwoods growing through them, my paper studio high above the mountain slope with a redwood tree growing through it—I hope that they, too, are safe, along with the homes of my many friends there. I hope the art center that we worked so hard to build up and maintain and that friends have gone on supporting and working for for the 19 years I’ve been gone is safe. And the animals and the redwoods and those who battle the fires.
2020 has been a year that will probably stand out for most of us as the most traumatic year of our lives, in spite of personal tragedies that might have superseded it in personal significance earlier. But this year, it seems the entire world faces the same possibly surmountable problem. The way to surmount it is to take care of Mother Earth. If she does not survive–if we meddle too deeply into her natural processes, she will strike back. It has happened again and again when species exceed their natural numbers or their rightful place. If we don’t learn how to manage our lives to stem climate change, we will all be suffering the fates of those locked in the thralls of fire or hurricanes or drought or flood or tornadoes or unseasonal snows or pandemics.
In the face of these increasingly unnatural disasters, time and time again, because of their magnitude, we feel powerless. But we are not powerless. Right now we can do what we must to find leaders and legislators who realize the importance of climate change and the dignity of all human beings. We can vote and we must vote and then we must support the decisions of sane men and informed scientists who can tell us what to do to change this trend of mankind’s annihilation. If you’ve never voted before, this is the time to vote and to vote right. The decision is not a political one. It is a rational one. It is not a matter of pride or “being right” or getting even. It is not a football or soccer game. We need to all be on the same side–the side of our Earth and the human race and the entire natural order.
We are not powerless. We have just been misdirected. We need to VOTE and vote wisely.
To show you the magnitude of the problem concerning fire in Boulder Creek, this is the house we owned and lived in for 14 years. It was built up on stilts on the side of the mountain and it was surrounded by huge redwood trees that came right up to the house, even through the deck in places. We were at the end of a road that fed into a twisting double-laned shoulderless road that wound down the the mountain. The entire area was this dense with redwood trees. The first photo is a view from our deck. The second is the view down to the treehouse Bob built for the kids. The third is looking up at the house from the only flat piece of ground on the two-acre property. It was where I planted my garden and built fish ponds. We also planted bamboo all around that little ornamental garden. As you can see, once fire took hold, there would be no chance of saving it.
I want to tack Janet Water’s wonderful comment onto the end of this blog. I’ve taken the oath. I hope you do, too: