Writing 115-Writing Blue
January 27, 2015
ONE HOT DAY: MY BIGGEST FEAR FLEW IN SPARKS
As a young child my greatest fear was fire. I am not certain what sparked this fear, or even why I would often dream about it only to wake up with my heart pounding and tears rolling down my cheeks. It was a hot Labor Day weekend 1996. My husband, children and I lived in a Farm house built in 1864, one of the oldest houses in Lane County. The house had large plank floors, two front doors off the porch and large windows some with the original panes of glass. One door lead you into the Parlor and the other lead you into the Living room. A narrow hallway in the living room went to small winding steps that took you to a great room on the second floor of the house, this is where my kids had their bedrooms. The house was surrounded with the most amazing yard. The white picket fence enclosed a grape arbor, as old as the house, and underneath the grapes there were two small rope swings attached to the arbor for my kids. Outside the fence was a large orchard filled with apples, pears and plums: and a lovely garden that I planted each summer with corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, blueberries and raspberries. I remember the day as if it were yesterday. We were getting ready for the long weekend, and my brother was coming down from Portland to celebrate my sister’s birthday. The day started as a typical late summer morning. The sun was shining high in the sky, the birds were busy in the grapes and I was busy in the kitchen. My son was in the large claw foot tub playing pirate ships with soap bars and my daughter was on the computer in the living room playing her favorite game. It was a lovely morning. With the warm breeze blowing through the open doors and windows I could smell a faint bit of smoke, but that was not unusual. Our house was tucked in between many mint farmers. They would harvest the mint in the late summer, then burn the fields afterwards for pest and weed control. In the kitchen I heard a car come down the gravel driveway honking loudly. It was too soon for my brother to arrive, so I went outside to see what was happening. Before even stopping he pointed at the roof and yelled, “Your house is on fire!” “Your house is on fire-get the hose!” I popped into high gear and grabbed the garden hose, turned the faucet on the outside spigot and handed it to the stranger and went inside to grab my children. Once I knew they were outside safe, I went back inside the house to call the fire department. I knew I wasn’t in eminent danger because the flames looked very small from the ground and they were high above on the roof at the other end of the house. After calling, I went back outside and realized more people had arrived. Many more, some offering help and others just staring. I could hear some of them say “what a shame, this historic house is on fire.” That was when I felt my first twinge of fear and anger at the same time. The fire department came after what seemed like a lifetime. They were so very positive, “Don’t worry Miss, this can be stopped easily.” Those reassuring words put me at ease. A stranger asked if I would like to go down the street and use her phone to call anyone and let them know what was going on. She also offered up a t-shirt for my naked son. As I sat in this strange car, I felt as if time was going backwards. The clock tick-tock ever so slow. She took me back to my burning house to wait for my mom. As I walked up towards the flames, my husband gave me the bad news that they couldn’t stop the fire safely. One of the firemen had fallen, caught his leg in the narrow stairway and was injured so they made the determination of safety. My heart sunk back into my stomach. The fire chief started asking me where important things were in the house. As we spoke to him, he would describe the area to someone inside via handheld radios: “Photo...
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