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Building One Home Fire Season September 1, 2012

It rained tonight. Great buckets of rain. I went outside and stood in it. It felt good.

The rain was such an odd sound that it did not even register with me until someone asked me if this was the first strong rain since the fire. I could not remember exactly when it really rained last but it had been months.

I had seen the lightening and heard the thunder but for some reason rain did not come into my mind. It has been dry for so long. We are used to having what is called dry lightning, which is a lightening storm with no accompanying rain. It always makes you pause when you see lightening in the summer in the West. Lightening is a frequent cause of wildfires. When lightening strikes, you look to the point of the strike to see if smoke rises. If it does, you call 911. It must be frustrating to 911 to take 100 calls because 110 people saw the strike and 100 called. Sometimes you are the first to report the fire so you have to think that it was worth calling even if you are the 99th caller.

We live in the mountains; there will be thunderstorms building and lightening occurs. When the lightening started tonight, it was striking across the sky more than down from the sky. I thought, “Good, if it is going across it is less likely to cause a fire.” Nowadays when I think thoughts like that I stop to wonder if it is because of our fire. I wonder if I am now hypersensitive to fire. I know that I am not. In the dry parts of the West, fire season is such a present part of our lives that you talk about it like you talk about the depth of the snow in the winter.

September starts today. We are in the countdown for the end of fire season 2012. Each day without a fire is a good day. The fire risk is still extreme but the mental shift toward winter is here. We pray for a winter with snow. I want to see the loamy soil that develops between the cracks of the trees on the north side where the snow stays long. If you reach down and pick up a bit of that loam, it is fluffy, damp and slightly dirty to the touch. There are little evergreen needles in it and you can find other deciduous material too. It has the pungent odor of dirt mixed with evergreen resin. I am always surprised to find loam under my trees. I live I the high mountain desert, I do not expect to find green moss.

Tomorrow we will go look to see how our former house site fared in the rain. I will peer at the ground looking for those places where Polytrichum juniperinum will grow. It will be beautiful.