There’s this story that you may have heard before: The short version sets the main character in a grim situation, an avalanche coming from above, and a mountain lion creeping in from below. In the last few moments of her life she looks down and sees a single strawberry at her feet and reaches down and eats it. And it was the best strawberry she ever tasted.
My own personal situation is not nearly so grim. I had over twelve hours between the beginning of the fire and evacuation. I was able to pack a lot of stuff into my car before I left. It’s a strange and humbling mental exercise to think about what you would grab if you had only minutes to evacuate. It’s practically ridiculous when you have half a day and a huge car to fill.
I was also extremely fortunate to have someplace to go. Some friends have a wonderful farm about an hour away in Cathy’s Valley. They graciously accepted a huge caravan of us at 4:00 in the morning.
The next morning we started pacing around early, trying to get what information we could, and trying to decide what to do. We were relieved to learn that El Portal had survived the night, but there was sadness for friends in Foresta who lost everything in this fire, and still a lot of worry for the remaining houses there.
Not long after posting pictures, I hit the wall and could not stay awake any longer.
When I finally woke up I couldn’t figure out what to do. We were still under evacuation I wasn’t sure if I could go back home, or if I would be able to do anything while I was there. I was still exhausted and just milling around trying to decide the best course of action.
Finally my friend Glikin asked if I wanted to help them with harvesting. I was happy to have something useful to do, and he set us to work in the strawberry patch, inviting us to eat any of the ones that were partially eaten or flawed.
Can I just say that I have total strawberry envy? My strawberries look nothing like this. At one point Glikin came over laughing, saying that harvesting strawberries is usually half grazing and half harvest. I reminded him of the strawberry story.
And then I could not stop thinking about it. As much as the situation sucked I was overwhelmed with gratitude at having a place, a beautiful place, to stay, and something to do.
I’m going to try to get back into El Portal today to see what I can do to help, but for right now, I’m eating the strawberry.