I’ve been at the desk all day and all I have to show for it is scraps of paper with pencil markings on them. When I started the day I thought I could get windows and doors picked for the new house. As I finish the day I have neither.
Seeing outside of one’s immediate environment is harder than I thought. It seems a simple thing to look out a window. Passing through a door seems like it could be harder but not overwhelming on most occasions.
I have learned that placing a room or a window is not so simple when you look at the remains of why you have a new house. Building in this burned environment we have considered each window and each door and whether or not the view is burned.
The wind came up in the weeks after the fire and blew away black ash at a surprising rate. The County got a grant with a large match that was quickly meet through the generosity of others in order to hydroseed the mountainsides. The seeds are sprayed out of special water trucks in a substance that forms a green mat of plants to be. For weeks after the trucks came and went the green mat made it looked like spring, the ground was green and lush all the way from the road up to the tops of the ridges that burned. It took a feat of engineering to get the trucks to the higher, roadless parts of the burned areas to put down the seed. In the spring it will be green because the seed that has rested in the ground where the fire passed over waited patiently for the days to warm and the snow to melt so that they could spring forth.
I am not sure how I would feel going home to my home that is not yet my home if I had to look at the black ash. Even with the debris from the fire taken away and many of the trees removed the area still looked wounded and burned.
So where we look and where we go outside from the inside of our house is important. If you look straight across the valley from what was our deck was and will be again, unless you knew that there were trees before you would not really notice that the fire had come and gone. If you look to the left it is heartbreaking. The windows on that side of the house are few. The dining room was moved to that side, further from the kitchen that would be usual. When we use that room that overlooks the remains of the devastation it will probably be dark and the shapes but not the details of the mountains will show.
In the living room the fireplace was repositioned from its obvious place to a wall facing an area that was partly burned. From the living room, the windows flanking the fireplace will open to the land as it was before the fire and the fireplace will fill the space in the vista that is chard working its way toward healing.
And so it goes. Each window and each door has a unique relationship to the burned environment. For us, they are not merely ways out or in, they are ways to be present with the land while it heals without being overcome by the sadness of what it is healing from.