Ashes to Ashes

      Raw from the Road, July 25, 2017

Ashes to Ashes

Sometimes you have to burn yourself to the ground
before you can rise like a phoenix from the ashes.

Jens Lekman

I remember going to see Mt. St. Helens the first time when I was living in Portland, Oregon. That volcano blew 14 years before and was known as the most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States.

I had never seen anything like that.

Still fresh from my so-called city-slicker days in Manhattan, viewing the devastation was beyond eye opening.

As I walked around the grounds I started to notice little purple flowers, new green shoots of grass and even a sprouting tree peaking out of the ash that still remains.

So many living things lost their lives from that natural disaster and I think being there in person was a wake-up call for me and the beginning of the understanding that we are all connected.

This memory of Mt. St. Helens came into my mind as I drove to Santa Barbara on the San Marcos Pass, Hwy 154, here in the Santa Ynez Valley and observed the charred trees and ashes on both sides of the road.

I so desperately want to hold on to the notion that the mountains need this burning every once in a while.  They haven’t burned since 1955.

Still, I hold a special place in my heart for the animals, insects, trees…. that could not find refuge from the fire. I’m grateful no human was seriously hurt from that fire.

And as in all disasters, there definitely are silver linings…

The community banned together, posting updates on FB and offering help and numbers to call.  There was outreach for people who had horses, cows and pets that needed to be evacuated and have a place to stay.

Not to mention the firefighters on the scene working so hard to quell the fire and save as much as possible.

I was happy and proud to be a part of this community who, in an instant, opens its arms and lends a hand to help in any way it can.

I believe we underestimate the effect these things have on us… collectively.

Living close enough to a fire to see the flames and the sky under siege like that is to say the least, unnerving.

One can’t help but think of the people and animals that are closest to that fire and hope and pray that they will be ok.

I’m glad the fire is out now.

It will take a while to get used to the new landscape on my drive in and out of the valley…a drive with scenery that people used to rave about and look forward to. Of course, there is still great beauty to be seen on the pass… and now, there is also a reminder of the devastated affected by this fire.

In time, the land will heal and new growth will begin and the beauty that was once there, will be more evident again.

A metaphor?

Stay safe out there and count your blessings…. there are many.

Love and Light,


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