My life has slowed down some, which is great, but there’s always something around the corner. Life is always ready to throw the next big, difficult, or strange thing at you. I recently moved to the mountains of North Carolina, go me, and the thing now is a forest fire, several in fact, but only one is impacting my daily life.
When I go outside, I smell smoke. I can see smoke. I can see smoke hazing up everything. The fire isn’t close enough to get to me. Something would have to go awfully, horribly, terribly wrong for a fire to get to me in the center of town.
The fire is currently burning near, and possibly burning up, two well-known movie locations. If you’ve seen Dirty Dancing or The Last of the Mohicans, you may be a bit saddened to know that the dock from Dirty Dancing and the mountain ledge from The Last of the Mohicans are both in danger from a forest fire. On last count, no buildings have been lost, but the fire is still growing, is less than twenty percent contained, and people have been evacuated.
Some of the pictures from the fire are quite sad. The beautiful mountain line above Lake Lure does not hold beautiful blue and purple mountains in the distance, it holds a flaming outline of what used to be mountains full of trees. The smoke is so bad that it goes all the way to Asheville. The picture to this post is a picture I took one day when the smoke was particularly bad. That big purplish haze towards the bottom of the sky is not clouds; it’s not the sunset; it’s not a storm. That purplish haze is smoke, all smoke. Usually at that point in my drive, waiting in traffic actually, I can see a beautiful view of the mountains as this piece of the road is fairly high and the view is long. Can you see any mountains? Me either.
While I know that this fire isn’t going to come close to me, as I have said, something would have to go horribly wrong for the fire to get inside the city, I still hold some worries over this. What if the fire did get so out of control that I had to leave? What if it burned up my house?
This is the second time in my life that I’ve been worried about a fire getting me and my things. The first time was when my former across-the-street-neighbor, started a forest fire, on accident, because he wasn’t watching his burning pile of junk and it hadn’t rained in a while. There was a very real concern that part of my yard might catch on fire, then my house, and then everything in it. I could have gotten out for sure, and probably gotten the pets as well, but what about the artwork and the books? That would have been a hard blow. I can get more TVs. I can get more kitchen appliances. I can get more clothes, more jewelry, more linens, and so forth, but can I replace my artwork or my special books? I cannot.
It’s just so ominous to know that there’s this big horrible thing looming not too far away from yourself. What if it comes your way? I walk outside and I smell the smoke, from miles and miles away, and it’s worrisome.
Something I’ve thought about, while living with this danger right down the road, is the book The Big Wave by Pearl S. Buck. In the book, people lived near the sea. The sea was dangerous in its own right. There were big storms and even tsunamis that could come from the sea. Behind the people there was a volcano, which could erupt. There could be earthquakes that devastated the land or caused tsunamis. The people had to live with danger in the front and the back. They had to live their lives, knowing that at any time, danger could come from either, or both directions and they could lose everything or even die.
I cannot attest to what it’s like to live near a volcano, but I have lived near the ocean before. There were typhoons and there were also earthquakes. I never experienced one of either that was that bad, but it could have happened. There could have been a huge typhoon that came through and ripped up everything. There could have been an earthquake so bad that my building was knocked over. Everyday, I lived with this reality and I didn’t think about it all the time, but it was always there.
This fire will be extinguished at some point, maybe it will rain someday, but for the time being, it’s oddly strange to live so near to something so dangerous and go about a normal life despite of it.