|Color Guard, Yarnell AZ, 29 June 2014|
I know many of you came to this blog because of the Yarnell Hill Fire posts, but I'm sorry to say that this is most likely the last of those.
You see, it's been a year. As many who have negotiated a big loss know, anniversaries (especially the first) are important and challenging. We commemorated the anniversary yesterday with some heartfelt thoughts and some ceremony.
I can't quite fathom how our community has changed since June 30, 2013. The greatest loss, of course, is the deaths of 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew. I suspect that, immersed in the business of fundraising, care-taking for humans and animals, cleaning, building, directing volunteers and attending committee meetings, we're a little late in our mourning for the loss of these men.
There's the superficial stuff, the evidence of the fire's destruction, to be sure. Fading purple ribbons remain all over town. Mostly, though, I see rebuilding. Nine homes were built for our uninsured neighbors with donated funds. 42 building permits have been issued and there is active construction about everywhere you look. The new places are almost always an improvement. I don't want to disrespect my little town, but there was (and unfortunately still is) some scary construction. At least one couple was turned down by insurance companies because it was (shall we say) historically built. Some of our friends have decided to buy an existing home and fix it up rather than rebuild. All of this is breathing new life into Yarnell.
|Denise Rogio celebrates with an original song, 29 June 2014|
There has been more than home building going on. Various charities and individuals have worked tirelessly on our community. The fire department has had donations of equipment and a total makeover of the crew quarters. The Community Garden was fully revamped. Our water utility has been pulled back from the brink. A collaborative effort has arisen to create a permanent memorial to our losses.
We're much closer to each other, too. I can't count how many new friends we've made and how many acquaintances have become friends. We have more little parties and we stop to talk with folks we pass on the street much more.
And, as I mentioned in a post last month, we're moving on a bit. We can talk, sometimes, about normal stuff now, and we're using our momentum to imagine the next projects for the town.
I had an interesting reminder of how far we've come as a community when I was in Sedona just after the Slide Fire. One of my photography friends who lives there said that he didn't quite understand what we'd been through until he'd experienced a wildfire near his beloved home.
It's not all good, but at least some of it is.
And so, I'm making the mental shift to moving on. All of us Yarnellians will do that at our own pace, of course. Last week I was at a Summer Course at Sierra Nevada College (Incline Village, Lake Tahoe) with Jerry Dodrill. In addition to an opportunity to photograph this beautiful part of the Sierra, the class included a story telling assignment. I found the making of this short video to be healing. I hope you enjoy it.
Thanks for accompanying me on this ride. I hope you'll still drop in on the blog now and then.