I used to have a roommate. She moved in one November, and we were fairly good friends, meaning we had lots of conversations and socialized together. It was nothing to spend an hour or two chatting about issues in the news or what environmental organizations we might like to work for or the latest health problem she was sure she was afflicted with. We talked a fair amount, and I would say it was fairly easy to talk as much as we did.
One day during the next June, she approached me with great hesitation and a look on her face that quite obviously read, "I have something difficult to say, and I've been practicing how I'm going to say it because I'm worried you'll be offended."
Not deterred by this face, I started the conversation by asking what was on her mind.
She paused. And then spoke kind of slowly.
"You need to water the lawn."
Huh? It's my house, and I knew how the controls to the sprinkler system worked. But my roommate, who was quite capable of mowing the lawn yet had never expressed any interest in lawn care whatsoever, had just told me to "water the lawn." Hmmm.... I could think of no health problem associated with an ugly lawn.
"Uh, yeah, I've let the lawn go and it's pretty brown. But the bright side is that if I don't water, I don't have to mow." Of course the unspoken statement there was, "And neither do you."
My, now undeterred, roommate then said, "I was listening to the radio and I heard that people should keep lawns green around their houses in case of a wildfire. I'm just worried that the house is going to burn down in a wildfire."
God love her, she really was worried.
I took her very seriously and explained that, "Really, we're fine. We're two blocks from a river... oh yeah, and in the middle of town. Creating clearance is mostly meant for folks living at the edges of open spaces that have a lot of vegetation - like a forest or grasslands or shrublands."
In her defense, if you haven't been exposed to wildland fire (or at least the responsibility of making decisions around a house in case of fire), you just don't know. Better to be cautious.
Anyway, once I knew it wouldn't hurt her feelings, I laughed and laughed and laughed. And then I think Mount Jumbo caught on fire that year, and we both remembered the water-your-lawn comment and laughed and laughed and laughed. (Cause Mount Jumbo's just east of town and was not at all a threat to us.)
And then I had dinner with some friends tonight and emerged to an interesting site.
I rushed home to get my camera, and though the pictures aren't great, I did take them while standing in my lush green lawn. (Not fighting fire means I have time to mow now in the summers, so the lawn gets a little extra water-love).
Yep, Mount Sentinel is on fire. And I can't help but laugh and laugh and laugh. I probably shouldn't, but I'm not under the impression that homes are threatened. Mine certainly isn't. But I'm also not digging line beside a fire at midnight right now. And because I'm going to go to bed in a bed and not trying to catch a few zzz's propped up on my line gear. And because I remember my roommate and how much fun I had with her
paranoia cautiousness. (It's a good thing WebMD can't send prescriptions or admit you to the hospital.) But I probably laughed so much tonight because there was such a relief not to jump to attention at the sight of smoke.
Best wishes to all the firefighters out there getting zero sleep, eating MRE's, and digging up that bear grass (or some other tough piece of vegetation) to make a fireline.