• No New Growth in 24 hrs! Wallow Fire held at 540,000 acres
• Fire pump and Sprinklers Arrived and Tested
• First breaths of relief
• And gratitude, so much gratitude…
The situation has steadily improved since the winds of June 5th, and unless conditions drastically change, the threat from the horrendous Wallow Fire can be said to be over!
For the first time, we can report zero new growth of the perimeter over the course of a 24 hour period. Fire fighters continue to support the line protecting the village of Blue, and to treat areas still burning within the Southeastern section that long worried us so. The National Guard has been called away from nearby Reserve, and many fighters have been moved to battle the many other Western blazes including the Las Conchas endangering nuclear waste sites in the government town of Los Alamos.
As if to mark a turning point, the very first clouds of the monsoon season moved through last night, and have visited us again this late Wednesday afternoon. More than that, I got to feel on my skin the first drops of rain to fall since mid-Winter, only the lightest sprinkling but enough to fill our nostrils with the scent of rain, enough to tease us back from the verge of despair to the edge of hope. And for me, it was apparently the signal ushering in the relief I hadn’t dared harbor any earlier.
It had been weeks since I’d taken more than fast and hurried breaths, provoked not by panic but by purpose, as I took on at the deepest levels the response-ability to do all I can to serve the land and increase the chances that cabins and office would still stand. Day and night my body seemed to be on call for whatever might be needed, maintaining a level of awareness and planning that is nonetheless medically indistinguishable from stress. Just now, however, I feel off duty, freed not to relax and disengage so much as to focus on those other priorities and missions that have been partly postponed these heated and hurried weeks. And just now I am able to shed a tear postponed for the sake of tasks… tears for what what has been destroyed as well for what has been saved, tears of both loss and relief.
Fire Preparations and The Emergency FundYour donations have been covering wages for our incredible helpers, the cost of a water tank, fire fighting pump and sprinkler system, that is mobile and can be used anywhere we can possibly get to with the Jeep. Even with the Wallow Fire threat subsided, today our friends were determined to hook the system all up and give it its maiden test. They could be seen smiling while hooking up the 20’ lengths of PVC pipe stretching an unbelievable 200 yards and 250’ of rise up the mesa, dipping the intake hose into the deep section of the river and then watching as water gushed out the upper end. Sprinklers rotated with a satisfying thuck-thuck-thuck and liberally doused the walls of the buildings, soaking even the much treasured trees. With the coming installation of second tank just for river water, a reservoir will always be full and ready for fire fighting even when the pump hasn’t yet been taken down and hooked up. Loba will have an easier source of wash water than the old way of taking barrels down in the jeep and filling them with buckets, and most crucially, we will be as prepared as humanly possible for the inevitable (and inevitably increasing) fires of the near future.
A second aspect of that preparation will be keeping the grounds cleaned up, concentrating plantings of native edible and medicinal species in raised rock beds away from the walls, spreading soft sand on the bare earth, and creating as much we can a rock garden feel, landscaping for safety as well as wildness. The day in and day out efforts of our helpers prepping the land is not lost for lack of flames this week, the work making the structures more defensible every fire season from now on.
Nor are the benefits and blessings of this near tragedy limited to the installation of mechanical advantages and implementation of soberingly practical strategies. It was this Wallow Fire that made us even more aware of the dangerous accumulations of dead grass and leaves piled against the cabins, the foolish proximity of our burn barrel to the nearest drying juniper trees, the fact that our firewood was stacked in the direction from which a fire would most likely come. So too, were we inspired – nay, driven! – to notice all the things we care about, more pronounced in the light of potential loss. To notice even more the devotion of the few ready to do the most with and for us. It was this fire, as well, that drew out the words and feeling of a multitude of folks we had no previously had no way of being sure we were reaching and affecting. What a benefit, to see our long loved students and allies come forth to express themselves and offer help, as well as to hear from people we’d never heard from before, who nonetheless had been learning from us and sharing a journey for so long that they felt like we are their family. Such a blessing, to receive donations that accomplish for us and this place what our measly incomes could never have, and for those to have come in small or odd amounts mostly from those with the least money to share. Awakened is the community we’ve seeded, watered and empowered, and stretched and expanded is what has always been our sincere and deeply felt gratitude.
With the Anima Emergency Fire Fund suspended, any donations from this point on will again go to the support of this work and land, something we have always depended on. Most immediately, this will need to include the purchase of materials to build a cover over the second water storage tank, and rain gutters before the monsoons really start dumping and we have no way to direct the water from the eaves to the tanks. You can always and easily give at:
• Thank you to everyone who donated to cover the mentioned expenses of preparation, demonstrating not only the extent of your compassion, but also how much you value the writings and teachings we mostly put out there for free, and for this unique school and place. I will not stop writing letters until I’ve had the chance and honor to thank you each personally.
• Thank you to Dan’l and Don our “Trail Boss,” making the needs of this place a priority and showing up with determined looks nearly ever day… for the huge amounts of labor they’ve contributed and continue to contribute, and for helping me rest my focused efforts long enough to receive and savor, to not only consider but laugh as ash was falling.
• Thank you to Resolute for keeping so much together from her home, while we had so much to tend to here.
• And thank you to everyone who posted our updates or spread our Fire Fund info, for every offer and suggestion, for every shared story from your own feeling lives, for every blessing and prayer.
One of the best things you can do now, is to keep alive the sense of connection that this fire threat inspired, to get more visibly and effectively involved by submitting to or helping network Plant Healer Magazine, attending or posting about the Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference coming up Sept. 15-18, enrolling in and completing empowering Anima home study courses, and visiting and connecting to the Anima Sanctuary you helped with the protection of, on a Retreat or in pursuit of instruction. You give us much, let us know what we can ever do for you personally in turn.
And as my letters lately often end, stay close. To the earth. To your true selves. To us. And to the hopes and missions we for whatever reasons share.
…from Jesse Wolf, Kiva Rose, Loba, Rhiannon and everyone involved with and caring about Anima school and sanctuary
(A longer reflection on the Wallow Fire and its implications follows beneath this post)
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