This morning we shared a wonderful breakfast of sourdough pancakes and crispy bacon with my dear friend Annie who now lives in Sacramento and her dad Gregg (my childhood neighbor(s) from across the street, at my parents house). They drove six hours to be here, to spend less than 24 hours, because they are those wonderful, special kinds of friends that do things like that do be with people they love. And they know me well enough to bring twice the amount of requested kale indicated on the shopping list. They delivered the gathered the groceries from town right to our door, bringing us fresh fruits and vegetables and my cherished half and half. Good friends (whom you consider family) and fresh vegetables. What more do you need in life?
Having Gregg and Annie here was so special, because in their own ways, over the past 24 years of friendship, they have helped me become who I am. This wild woman. Living wild. In the wilds of Nature. Gregg and Annie’s respective taste for adventure, support and passion for the environment, and dreams of The Wild have influenced me in a multitude of ways.
Having Gregg and Annie come to visit us at The Moose Lodge was like a homecoming for them too because all along they have been in on The Dream, watching it build and grow. Influencing it in a variety of ways, supporting it with every step, twist and turn.
Annie has been supporting my wild dreams since we were six. The big wild dream we kept alive for many summers was of running a restaurant using completely locally harvested, organic and wild plants. Known to most of society as weeds and mud pies. We ran an functioning restaurant on the side of my parents house, on a wood platform my dad built with a big spool for a table. We borrowed my parents lawn chairs when Annie’s dad and his friend Paul came to our restaurant. We carefully designed, wrote, typed, and printed our menus, complete with pricing. Annie reminded me of this last night, a memory about Paul. Sharing stories to keep part of Paul alive, present. Here, at the table over dinner at The Moose Lodge.
Paul died after fighting what his family described as "a brave battle with brain cancer". A battle for life. For family. For dear friends. In the end he faced a fate that we all succumb to in the end. Paul's memorial service was on Friday and Annie traveled up from California to attend his memorial. Paul played the part of engaged customer at our restaurant, a supporter of wild dreams and strong young women. Sincere and kind, he and Gregg asked questions about our entrees, ordered beverages, and always had coffee with dessert. They indulged us and supported our wild dreams by extending their dining experience as long as they could, giving us their time, patience and attention. We were thankful to have such loyal, happy customers.
The obituary for Paul noted what everyone remembered about Paul: (his) most outstanding personal character trait was his natural love of people, and his sincere interest in their lives. People sensed Paul's sincerity, and returned his love. Just as Paul left a long trail of his artwork, he also left an even longer trail of love and affection.
Read more here: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/adn/obituary.aspx?n=paul-siebel&pid=167061034#storylink=cpy
What a wonderful legacy Paul has left behind for those who loved him and those who were lucky to have his friendship and experience his kindness.
After we finished breakfast, we sat back and enjoyed the view. Looking out into the Wrangell's. Taking in the expansive view, impossible to capture because it is so beautiful. Vast, pristine wilderness.
Then the power went out.
No problem. Dishes can wait. Visiting with family is more important. The dishes will be there later. Right now, it is time for friends. Taking in the gorgeous late-morning sunrise, sipping our coffee and tea when we look out at the big sky. The clouds.
Then scanning the horizon....oh….what….ummm….That is a really dark cloud. Black even. Billowing. High on the horizon.
Parke says calmly "the generator is on fire at the school. We might not have power for a while.". Possibly a long while. We had no idea what to expect.
Parke and Gregg drove to the school, with Maya to investigate. As the smoke grew thicker, Annie and I watched out the window, some 2-3 miles away, as the crow flies. The cloud darkening. Growing. We hopped into The Roo and headed off to investigate.
We pulled up to a line of cars on either side of the road. The old Glenallen fire truck, a vintage rig, had its lights on when we walked into the school parking lot. People running around, looking absent yet completely consumed by the task at hand. A couple small groups of people chatting. We mostly wore vacant, shocked expressions. Short conversations were had. Silence.
The cold grey October sky, the crispness in the air made it a sobering moment. Winter. A long winter awaits. Months of cold and darkness. We just stood there and watched it burn, while the volunteer fire department was working to extinguish the blaze.
The diesel tank next to the generator could have exploded. If it had, people could have been seriously injured, or killed. We wouldn't have a school anymore. Everything felt fuzzy. Being new here, in The Wild, we didn’t know what to expect. Would power come back on this week? This month? How bad is this. What does it all mean. We expected the worst, and hoped for the best.
Gregg and Parke came home around noon and went to work getting our generator up and running, unsure of how much it would power given we have a well pump. In the meantime I took Annie on The Grand Tour of “Town” and stopped at the scenic pull outs that are before and after our house. I drove. Then we came home. Annie made me stay calm and eat cheese. She made me tea. I sat with the cat, stroking his silky orange coat, thinking.
I decided we probably wouldn't be needing these night lights for a while:
And was thankful we had these on hand:
Sporting my "Well behaved women seldom make history" tee-shirt, a gift from Annie.
Thinking about not having hot running water, one of my “musts” for Moose Lodge Livin’. No electricity, without the use of a generator. Another must out the window. No fridge. Big must. DSL only when the generator is powered up. School. No cordless phones, unless the generator is running. Corded phones. Laundry. Oh, the laundry. Two children and one tri-training Mama who go through laundry at a rapid pace. What. Are. We. Gonna. Do.
The generator came on, things were okay. The water came on. Okay. We’ll be okay. We turned the generator off while we ate the burrito lunch Annie cooked on the wood stove, while I sat with the cat and took in “the situation”. After Annie and Gregg departed we came back inside to fire up the generator and do the dishes, and vacuum, as my allergies couldn’t take much more without a daily vacuum. The generator came back on. No water. I repeat, no water.
The fridge, the water pump and any vampire energy that was being sucked from the generator, was just too much to ask. I sat there, eating lunch, wondering....
What would Laura do?
I suspect Laura would chill out. Kick back, breathe. Give thanks for being here in this wild place. Give thanks for this experience. Laura would remain calm and carry on. Catastrophes and other unexpected crises come with the territory. This is the price you pay to live wild. In the end I decided Laura would keep calm and eat cheese.
This is what you came for. The voice repeated my “race mantra” in my head, over and over. The Wild Dream, the wildest one, of being Laura, came true today.
This is the stuff Wild Dreams are made of, this is what we came for.
Suddenly we were jerked off the power grid, no running water, and a still smoking community generator. Hello, rural livin’. Nice to meet you. We feel unprepared and overwhelmed. How do you get back to town from here? Oh that’s right, take a left and keep on going, and going and going. Town is a very long way away. Far enough away, I think we'll stay right here and figure it all out. One step at a time. Moment to moment.
In earlier conversations with other community members outside at the school, when the flames were wild and the smoke dark and raging, nobody knew what it meant or when we might have power again. The crisis was still unfolding, there was nothing anyone could say. The best thing we could do was stay out of the way, go home. Think. Repeat the mantra. This is what you came for. It had been four or so hours since we left the school so Parke went to go visit neighbors to see what the word on the highway was.
I did my best to channel my inner Laura, but as Parke was gone in search of news, I sat here wondering.
Do I have what this takes?
I started wrapping my brain around the idea of hauling buckets of water up from our spring, in the winter. In the cold, and snow, and in darkness. Perpetual darkness. Heating water on the wood stove for baths and dishes. Drinking water. Everything.
How big of a project will replacing this generator be? How long will it take. We thought it might be a while. Unsure of the whole situation of what happens in times like these, in a place so wild.
Cheechakos. Greenhorns. Newbies.
The word on the highway was good. Real good.
The power is back on. A back-up is on its way. We’re back on the grid. Lights, camera, action.
Celebrate and give thanks.
It must have been some kind of test from The Universe, the first of what I expect will be many tests. Tests about The Dream. Are we really up for this? This wild dream. This experience.
We had shut off our power strips and turned off the lights, so that when the generator was powered back on we could check the water situation again or attempt to remedy the water situation. The power came back on and we were unplugged. We were in the dark, when the lights came back on. Then we flicked a switch.
The lights came on. A Hot Cocoa Party followed. We celebrated modern marvels such as running hot water, electricity, DSL, cordless phones, my MacBook, I even gave thanks for our televisions.
One of the biggest gifts The Moose Lodge has given me is an attitude of gratitude. A continual giving of thanks occurs in this house, moment to moment. Thanks. Appreciation. The celebration of moments. Every day moments. Every time I take a shower, I give thanks for hot water. I savor my showers now, and it’s funny because back in town I rarely savored a shower. I did not pause to take a moment to give thanks for clean hair and light at the flick of a switch, when I turned the light off in the bathroom after a shower.
I give thanks now, for everything. Every day. Days like today remind me that this perpetual thanksgiving is necessary, for we are in a place where we are at the mercy of the elements.
Water is sacred. Power is precious. I am thankful.
I am thankful for friends who are family. I am thankful for our family and friends who have supported us in pursuing our wild dreams and ultimately helped to make them coming true by being there when we needed advice and guidance, or to simply cheer us on from hundreds or thousands of miles away.
The thing about good friends is even when your world is on fire, they stand there right beside you, with their arm around you and put on their best smile. Giving you the gift of laughter and the gift of love, just when you need it most.
Annie sporting a felted wool hat I made her a couple years ago, with
George, who is wearing a hat his Grandma Judy made him.
Tonight, I urge you to give thanks for the blessings in your life. The simple things we all take for granted in this convenient modern life we lead, (conveniences that extend all the way out here to The Moose Lodge).
Call someone you love to simply say I Love You. And mean it, from the bottom of your heart ;) Or show up on their door step to surprise them with something random and meaningful, like two bunches of kale and a quart of half and half.
Leave behind a legacy of love, kindness and friendship. Every day, every moment is a chance, an opportunity to be with the ones you love, to share the moments, make memories, and keep dear friends and family who have departed this earth alive by sharing their legacy. We never know when our last photo will be taken, our last moment shared. Be with the ones you love. Really be with them. Be present. Cherish the moments. Time, the one thing we all run out of, and can never have enough of; make time now, while you still can. All you need is Love.