Coming Home

Our road

After a half month of mandatory absence, evacuating in a blur under raining ash and advancing fires, residents were allowed entry into their homes this week. One of the most disturbing days of my life.


We all have disturbing days. The longer we live, the more pain and sorrow we collect, watching loved ones leave this world, and worse. But I’ll not go into the details of that deeply painful day, I’ll let the photos tell that story.

Our road

This section of forest, above, used to be my “favorite maple” section. Big Leaf Maple trees, they wore big yellow lobed leaves every autumn, and bright green new leaves each spring.


There’s a sunrise unfolding as I write this from my temporary housing. It’s a stunning view of the San Francisco Bay, I’ll show you in a minute.


We lost all our out-buildings (three), but not the house. All tools, winter clothes, luggage, some office equipment; plus irreplaceable items like the Christmas ornaments we have collected for 30 years from all over the world, and 40 years of my journals.


Before and After of Athena’s Work Studio.


Studio “Before”


Studio “After”


This week we’re staying on an inlet of the bay; and as we file claims, cancel accounts and trips, and inquire into temporary apartments, the tide flows in, and the tide flows out.


I’ve counted 27 bird species here this week, and one day a sea lion came to visit.


Before and After of Our Electrical Panel. The “before” photo was originally taken for the bird nest tucked in the center. A Pacific-slope Flycatcher raised four chicks there in 2006.


Electrical Panel “Before.” Flycatcher nest in center


Electrical Panel “After”


We cannot return to our house for a few months until the electrical, plumbing, and septic systems are fixed. We were up there twice this week. On Monday, the first day, we walked around in goggles and face masks, wandered from one melted mass to another. The charred trees wavered overhead in the wind, threatening to topple.


On Thursday, when we returned, we found five men from the power company sitting in our driveway, one was eating potato chips. It was their lunchtime and they were there to cut down trees for the new power line.


San Francisco skyline and the Bay Bridge at dawn this week


Every day here in our Airbnb there’s a snowy egret that cruises in, and a kingfisher who arrives and departs with a rattle and a swoop. Willets linger on the rocks. Three Canada Geese spend every night here, and every morning they honk as they lift their big bodies into the sky.


Each day brings a new dawn, no matter where we are.  And the longer we live, the more glorious sunrises we have.


Willets, Richardson Bay


Photo credit: Athena Alexander

Gracious thanks for all your warm comments, encouragement, and support, my friends and loved ones.



105 thoughts on “Coming Home

  1. Hi Jet. Dan’s sister here. I have been wondering how you were doing. Read your blog and some other posts. Beautiful pictures to enjoy and your positive thoughts are refreshing to read. Sending you all my best and hope there will be many good days ahead. I’ll keep reading now that I found you. Take care!

  2. I am so sorry to hear this, Jet. I admire you for staying positive during this difficult times. Wishing you to stay strong and comfort during the transition to recovery. I hope mother earth will show her kindness and the forest revive sooner. Hugs and lots of love from the Midwest..

  3. Jet, I am just getting back online and getting filled in by your recent posts on the horrific time you and Athena have been through. I am so sorry for your losses, but I know with determination and guts, you both can bounce back. Your love for nature will prevail. Take care of yourselves.

  4. Jet and Athena, your new chapter just beginning, as painful and challenging as it is, offers you the insight of great gratitude for all that you still have. Please embrace these as you take a new step forward with this deep awareness. May you both be fully embraced in the outpouring of love. Heartfelt prayers, Lori

  5. Jet,

    I am sorry two fine people like yourselves have to experience so much pain and loss. Your attitude is inspiring and I hope you have the smoothest and quickest recovery possible. Best wishes to you and Athena.


  6. It is heartbreaking to see the devastation the fires caused and to read about all that you lost, including the beautiful forest around you. But nature is so resilient and it will all come back. I am seeing how trees and bushes burned by Hurricane Irma and cut down to foot-long stumps in early September are already growing new branches and leaves. I wish you strength and resilience as you work towards getting back home again and rebuilding. Much love.

  7. I’ve been away from WordPress for many weeks and am just learning of your loss, Jet. I’m so sorry to hear of the devastating impact on your home. I pray that you and Athena will continue to inspire others with your words and images of optimism and appreciation for the beauty of the world around you.

    • I love Richardson Bay, too. Since I wrote that post I have lived in three more places around the Bay Area, and now I am living in an airbnb in Tiburon, a lovely spot in the world. Many thanks for your visits today, they are much appreciated, Pam.

  8. Hello dear Jet – As you know I have been away and so this is the first post of yours I have read about your return home. I have been thinking about you a great deal…..and can only imagine the turmoil your lives have been thrown into. Many losses, but of course the forty journals – that’s huge …..however, you will begin again….and I am quite sure that this extraordinary life event will feature greatly in both yours and Athena’s future creative endeavours. I am also sure that ultimately you will both emerge stronger from it. However, for now, it’s got to be a case of one small step at a time. I can imagine moments of despair followed by a piece of positive news that helps….and am quite sure that this kind of scenario will continue until you get all the ‘stuff’ sorted out. I will be sending magical hummingbirds in your direction…… Janet x

    • Dear Janet, thank you so much for your thoughtful and spot-on comments. I right back here after more than a month has passed since the fire, and there indeed have many moments of horror and heartbreak, but also some brief moments of light and hope. As time goes on, the hope increases. In the process we have endured many difficult days, but have also been joined by many incredibly compassionate and understanding people, including this kind comment from you. I look forward to the future creative endeavors that you speak of, and thank you for the magic you send. I really appreciate your comments and visits, always.

  9. Not sure how I missed all of this, but noticed a comment on current post that immediately clicked with what happened before I got to this post! My heart goes out to you and Athena….having seen and been through numerous California Wildfires (never having lost a home though)….I will take earthquakes (been through a number of those) and tornadoes (grew up in the midwest) to these fires any day!
    We have friends that lost their home in Napa….she is an artist and lost her all of the work she had on their property along with all of the family memorabilia accumulated throughout the years. She and her husband were up at their daughters house in Seattle when the fire hit. Neighbors sent pictures of what was left (nothing literally)….took them weeks to work up enough courage to go see it in person. The loss is irreplaceable.

    May you both be blessed with strength and courage to work through this process to get back into your home and rebuild what was taken. May you be blessed with patience as you work through the process. My thoughts and prayers are with you both!!

    • Thank you, my friend, for your warm message and kind words. This week is the two-month anniversary, and admittedly, it has been a harrowing experience. Like your friends, we lost much irreplaceable memorabilia. We still have our house, fortunately, but there is much damage to repair before we can move back in, and finding anyone to do repairs has been nearly impossible, due to the large volume of demands in the county. But somehow it will get fixed, we’ve got a new contractor coming this week and are hoping he will take the job; and meanwhile we live elsewhere with electricity, running water, and safe shelter. You and I have been exchanging the joys of life for several years now through our blogs, and I look forward to sharing with you the return. Many thanks, Kirt.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s