Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Threat of Brush Fires

I knew this year was going to be a bad one for brush fires in our area. Our topography consists of beautiful forested hills, smaller versions of the Smoky Mountains. Actually, our area is often referred to as "The Foothills to the Smokies". However, with the breakage of trees from the winter ice storm and wind storms comes the threat of brush fires. Dry Brush in the form of treetops and broken limbs lying in heaps all around the hillsides. Logging done on a nearby property leaving more debris. Also, the stupidity of people burning unwanted brush on a blustery, warm March day. That's what happened yesterday.

Yesterday was an exceptionally warm, nice, pre-Spring day. Around 2pm I was spending time with the horses when I smelled wood smoke in the air. The day was very blustery with gusts of warm winds. I began seeing smoke rolling into our valley. Wonderful! Some idiot actually burning dry brush on a day like this! I just don't understand what goes through a person's mind! Anyone with any kind of common sense should know, you do not burn brush or anything, on a dry, windy, March day.

A couple hours later a firetruck with sirens blaring hurries up my little dead end country road. A single rider ATV following behind. Evidently they were checking to see if the fire had crept over the hill. They both returned back down the road about five minutes later. A neighbor phoned me and said the fire was actually two hillsides over but moving up the first hill fast because of the winds. Hubby came home from work at his usual time and said he saw firetrucks two roads over. People standing at the end of the road and the fire department had the road blocked off. Our fire departments are all volunteer. His guess was that some homes had been evacuated.

Smoke was hanging heavy in our little valley. Not much you can do when the situation isn't in your control except pray. I asked Hubby if he'd ever thought of a contingency plan for the horses. He looked at me kind of funny, as if to say, "You're worried about the horses, what about the house?" But then I think he realized that since the horses have been a big part of our lives, they are always in my thoughts when situations like these present themselves. He simply said, "Well, we'll just have to see, and no, I don't have a plan."

We don't have a trailer to move the horses. We just haven't had it in our budget. I want a small stock trailer, but other purchases and projects have been priorities. Last year, it was helping with #1 son's wedding. The year before it was a new roof on the house. The year before that it was a tractor. So, anyway, if I needed to move my horses out, I'd have to call a friend of mine who does have a trailer. I'm sure she'd help us out if she could. She has offered her trailer in the past.

Through the evening we were outside working on cleaning up some of our tree debris. Definitely NOT planning on any burning of any kind. The smoke died down, then just before dark the winds picked up again. Smoke filled the air. We could hear the beep, beeping of fire trucks down the road which meant some of the fire must have come over the hillside down that way. Naturally I was nervous. Does Bach's Rescue Remedy really work? I'm not sure but I gave myself a few shots.

I then realized that since I've had my horses I have been more concerned about a myriad of things I had never concerned myself with before them. From storms, to feed, to fires to's nearly like having children in my care again. I'm sure for the most part I overreact. Though I try not to. After all, what will be will be and you can't be prepared for everything you just deal sometimes.

Fortunately, this time, we were blessed with rain over night. We may not be so lucky the next time some yahoo around here decides to burn their brush on a windy day. As tolerant as I try to be, there are some things I just have little tolerance for, and one of the big ones is lack of common sense. You are often at the mercy of the people around you who ignore common sense. I'm not perfect, but I feel I have a good grasp on what is sensible and what is not, except maybe for my over emotional reactions to events that seem to endanger my horses. Where the heck does that come from?

Already, 2009 has been a very long year and it's only March. I don't want to dwell on "What's next?" I want to be able to look forward and smiling say "What a great year!" by the time December 31 comes around. So, I guess I'm going to have to keep repeating my mantra:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Feels like one of those years.

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