After the wildfires: A reflection

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Monday, October 23rd, was my first day back to work, a commute that I have driven for 15 years; from Santa Rosa to west Sonoma on Hwy 12.

I was heavy hearted and disoriented as I drove down the familiar highway. I know every curve, every mountain sight, every bump and house along the way. The mountains of beautiful greens, yellows and even oranges at this time of year, have given me comfort in times of distress and I have come to find great peace in my 1/2 hour drive of solitude . It’s as if the scenery has become one of my closest friends.

The many hillsides that boast in beauty and comfort are now tarnished and discolored, standing naked and ripped apart. I pulled aside and sat with a heavy chest in silence, and in my awe stricken sadness here is what I felt the hillsides had to say:


We had nowhere to run,
Nowhere to go.
The fire blazed forward,
Towards us…on us…through us.
It was hot,
Deathly hot.
It was wicked with uncontrollable rage.

We could not protect you.
We could not offer you
Our beauty,
Our shade,
Our fresh air,
Or even
A quiet day.
All the things you have sought in us,
For years upon years,
In your times of need.

The wind demanded dominance.
It took charge,
And the firestorm began a mind of its own.
It engulfed us.
It swallowed us.
It destroyed us
In its fiery blaze of uncontainable heat.
Even ‘we hills’ have never fully felt
Such scorn.

It captured the homes that dwelt
And nestled within,
Homes built for humans
And wild animals alike.
We were hurt.
We were helpless
And incapable of stopping it.
We could do nothing
But endure the many painful days
And nights,
Hoping you would flee far away from us
In time.
“Please flee,” we rumbled
Through the Winds.
“Get out.”
In time. In time. In time.
We had no where to run,
Nowhere to go.

It is quiet now,
Look around.
We are still here.
Standing mightily as we always have,
Reaching to the same familiar sky.
Do not cry for us.
Do not feel sad when you look our way.
We made it through,
And we stand as majestically,
And beautifully as we once did.
Only this time, with the knowledge
That we will endure,
In times of utter disbelief
And destruction.

It will take time, we know.
But be patient with us and yourselves as
You look about.
The birds still fly over head,
And will one day again
Land in our abundance of green and
Bountiful trees.
Our beautiful blue sky has returned,
And the radiant sun still sets.
And yes, the brilliant autumn moon still
Shines brightly in the northern sky
Upon our valley.
Don’t abandon us.
Listen to all of nature large and small,
As we reclaim what we lost,
As we build what was torn apart,
As we begin our rebirth.
Precious animals will find us again,
And so will you.

We have nowhere to run,
Nowhere to go.
We are Sonoma County Strongheart 💛 heart
— Bethany Reese

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