When I first sat down to write this, I started crying and I couldn’t make anything coherent come out. That may sound a little extreme, but I have a feeling a lot of people who read this will relate.
There are people who actually live in the Gorge. And then there are the rest of us, who just “live” in the Gorge. It’s our living room. I think we call it that. It sure feels that way. So many, many of us here in the Portland area spend a LOT of time there. We all have our favorite hikes, swimming holes, waterfalls, weekend camping spots, etc.
I feel like we won’t really know what the new normal will look like until the fire is out. For now, there’s anger and sorrow and worry. When I think of that foolish, foolish kid and his equally foolish friends, I think about how I want him to be really sorry for what he’s done. Not sorry about what’s going to happen to him, but sorry about the act itself and how very much damage he’s done. I want him to realize the import of it all. Hopefully, he will have more insight today than he did three days ago.
I also hope that we can all think about stupid things we’ve done that could have had catastrophic consequences, but didn’t. Not because we’re better than that, but just because of sheer dumb luck. Or the grace of God. So maybe we can try to not hate this kid. Even now, through the haze of fear and sadness. Even through our anger and grief.
I was in Seaside with some dear friends the day the fire broke out. When we were talking about it, my friend Essiet said, “there’s always hope. Something good will come out of this. There’s always something good that can come out of something bad.”
We went to Cannon Beach, and while we were there, I was looking around at all the trees. There are still trees. Even in the Gorge, there are still trees, and there will be when this is over. We went to Indian Beach at Ecola State Park. We were walking around the rocks and I was looking for tide pools. At first, I thought, “there’s not much here.” But as I looked more closely, I realized that there was life everywhere.
You’ll see the haze in these pictures. Just like in Portland, the sun and moon were red from it, and everything was a little fuzzy. It’s a sad reminder of how deeply we are all affected by this fire. Of just how far-reaching it is.
Still, there WAS hope everywhere. There was life everywhere. Here’s some of it. Many of these pictures may seem like nothing special, except that right now, a stand of old growth trees that’s still standing seems like something very special indeed. And there’s sea stars and anemones. And tiny little crabs.
This website doesn’t support video, but if you head over to my Facebook profile, https://www.facebook.com/leila.piazza, you can see the greatest little video of this tiny little crab eating dinner. It’s really sweet.
I know this in no way makes up for what’s happened. I know we’ll all be grieving, and even as I post this, we still don’t even know the extent of our loss. But life DOES go on. And on and on and on. Thank God. So this is my offering to you. Something to look at that isn’t the devastating destruction of something we love. Here is something life-affirming. Something hopeful. And I, for one, could use a little hope right now.