I feel exceptionally lucky to be able to sit here at my desk today, writing this post. As you have probably heard, last week California was burning to ashes. After working in the garden last Sunday morning, we spent a quiet day at home since my broken toes are still healing. As we were getting ready for bed, the wind started howling around us. I had an umbrella shading one of our gardenias. We went outside to remove it and then we smelled it, that all too familiar wildfire smell in the air.
We went to sleep wondering where the fire was. Next morning, as I sat down to work, I noticed the sun.
I started reading the news, and shock took over me. While sleeping Napa got lucky, the same wind that we heard the night before spread the fire across the mountains to the West and ravaged the city of Santa Rosa.
This was the view just outside my window
I love fire. I make excellent campfires, BUT I also have great respect for fire, a reverence if you will. I am exceptionally careful around fire too.
Having lived in southern California where October is wildfire season, wildfires themselves are not new to me. I have gotten ready for evacuation once before. We have seen smoky skies and burning hills more times than I care to remember. We have camped under a red sun looming overhead, but it’s different. Seeing this right outside our home still makes me very nervous.
Tuesday, as I saw smoke growing on the west side where the fire was closest to our home, I started packing. Soon thereafter we got notification that the very north end of our street had received evacuation orders. A young man wearing a particle mask came by to warn us. He was going from door to door, making sure we were aware of the notice.
Charlie has taken the colour of Quinacridone Gold from the wildfire sunlight
The hardest part is that if you do need to evacuate, you don’t know what you will come back to. I started with the kitties’ supplies, their boxes, food. Then came the necessary items for us and after that, a box of would-be-nice-to-save things. On Wednesday, I packed a few more things ignoring the throbbing in my broken toes. Whole place reduced to 2 boxes.
Fire burning on both sides
All of us are ever so thankful to our First Responders. They worked around the clock, shift after shift, 80 hours straight without any sleep to keep the fires away from us. When the wind died down they made progress, only for the wind to return again the next day.
We got help. All the neighbouring states, and states as far away as Florida, South Carolina, Indiana, New York and Alaska came to our rescue. 13 states in total. We also got help from Canada and Australia. The National Guard, police, firefighters – everyone pitched in stop the insatiable fire from raging across the state. Our heroes!!
Our city was saved thanks to these wonderful people. After multiple wind advisories, we finally got a respite on Saturday. On Sunday the evacuation orders were also lifted for our Northern neighbour, the city of Calistoga, our usual weekend haunt. A bit of blue sky even showed up. The streets were still quite empty, but signs of life were returning slowly: A couple of children playing outside, a group of teenagers walking together, a few open restaurants.
Although the smoke is back again and we are still under an air pollution advisory, it feels great to not be afraid anymore.
Elsewhere however, others didn’t fare as well. First Responders saved quite a few homes, but a great many were destroyed. Nothing was left of entire neighbourhoods except for fireplace chimneys and foundations.
I learned that the line between the destroyed and the saved homes was called the Line of Sorrow.
Everyone showed extraordinary compassion. That’s the thing about humanity. We saw the worst of it last week, and we also keep on seeing the best of it alongside.
Well wishes continued to pour in. Neighbours checked on each other like the young man who came by our place, while people offered their places to the evacuees. Multiple animal rescue areas opened up for both large and small animals. Maine Coon Adoptions also set up a make-shift kitty rescue. These are only a few examples. The number of volunteers and donations in goods were at max capacity.
Businesses started collecting donations, and we gladly stepped up. However, I wanted to do a bit more.
So, on Monday, I started working on these Firefighter patterns. I worked around the clock to finish drawing and creating the pattern. That was followed by writing the pattern file, testing and making the block, along with making the necessary edits, all in the last 3 days. Every time I wanted to stop and rest, I kept myself going thinking about the firefighters who didn’t give up. I love them, they are my biggest heroes.
Firefighter Quilt Pattern
It is my 12″ Firefighter quilt pattern. I even included instructions to make the block without fire for easier piecing. I am sure any child or adult who gets wide eyed by firetrucks will love it!
Firefighter Embroidery Pattern
For those of you who do not paper piece, but want to do a bit of hand sewing, I have a Firefighter embroidery pattern for you too. Sadly, I ran out of time to stitch a sample, but the pattern is colour coded and has suggested stitches. You can get that from my Etsy and Craftsy shops too.
I will donate all proceeds from both patterns to the Firefighters Fund.
Heroes are not born, they are made.
Lets help these heroes a little further.
I am linking up with the linky parties on my Events And Links page. Please pay a visit to some of them, they are a lot of fun!