Welcoming Rebirth

Wild Gooseberry

I often highlight spring wildflowers that surround my home around Easter weekend, but this year is different, because our home was in the center of the firestorm that raged through Northern California last October.

 

Wikipedia 2017 Northern California Wildfires

 

All the wildflower photos here are from previous springs in my home forest; except the last two, post-fire.

Gold Wire and Ladybug

Mission Bells aka Chocolate Lily, Fritillaria affinis

 

Six months have gone by, and we are still living in temporary housing in the next county. There are many problems in the area with infrastructure, not enough repair crews, debris removal, and interminable delays. We all struggle here, in various ways.

Douglas Iris, Iris douglasiana

 

Shooting Stars, Dodecathion

 

For us on our rural property, our electrical system was incinerated, so it has to be rebuilt. There is a house, but it is not habitable. Nothing physical has been done in six months, except one pile of ash and debris (once a cottage) was removed.

 

There’s plenty of activity, exhaustingly so, but it’s all paperwork and talk.

Indian Warrior, pedicularis densiflora

Redwood lily, Lilium rubescens

 

The good news started this week, when the hallowed electrical pole was at last installed.

California poppy, Eschscholzia californica

Canyon Delphinium, Delphinium nudicaule

 

Meanwhile, autumn turned to winter and the holidays came and went…and spring is right on time.

 

Although hundreds of thousands of damaged trees lie covering the ground and choking the growth urge, still, there is a stirring from underground.

 

The wildflowers are rallying.

Elegant Clarkia, Clarkia unguiculata

Western Azalea, Rhododendron occidentale

 

Wildflowers never stay for long, they are short-lived. I have seen seasons where they only came out for two days before the rains pounded them down, or the sun parched them.

Western Houndstongue, Cynoglossum grande

Beargrass, Xerophyllum tenax

 

While there is a lot to love about wildflowers, with their bright colors and harbinger ways, what I love most about them is their wildness, their impermanence.

 

They say, “Look at me now. Not tomorrow or on the weekend.”

 

They are fleeting, as nature can be, and they say, “Look at me now, because I may not be here another day.”

Golden Violet, Viola pedunculata

 

I stand there in the rubble, looking for signs of spring. Shoots of grass are peeking through the scarred earth, the songbirds are cavorting and looking to nest, and some of the survivor trees are beginning to leaf.

 

The wildflowers, the birds, and wild mammals, too–they train us to be present in the world, wake up, and take notice of the glory that surrounds us.

 

Ferns, post-fire

 

Lilies, post-fire

 

As the earth awakens in this recently ravaged corner of the world, I listen to the sweet trill of the finch’s song, my eyes scanning the deadened forest for signs of life.

 

And somehow, I guess from studying the forest for all these years, I know that it’s going to be okay.

 

Photo credit: Athena Alexander

 

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98 thoughts on “Welcoming Rebirth

  1. …and it will. Guess this is a hard way to practice patience and hopefulness. Many many miles from you we are now observing wildflowers in Corfu. A park is nearby and the wildflowers cover every inch. What a delight! But the lesson you learned applies here. Today we walked by and were horrified to discover the parks person had mowed all the flowers down. Why? Who knows. They didn’t last long enough but we so appreciated every day they were here.

    • My thanks to you both, Joe and Beth, for this warm comment. Yes, we have had many opportunities to practice patience and hopefulness. I liked hearing about eh wildflowers in Corfu…good thing you appreciated them while they were there.

  2. Jet the last two photos give me goose bumps. Both in the shock of seeing the severity of damage the fire delivered and in the hope that the springs of green demonstrate. So many vibrant flowers of springs past. So happy to hear of the pier pile’s arrival and we will be hoping it is the beginning of steady progress now. Hugs to both of you from snowy Canada.

    • Hi Sue, yes, it is shocking to see things the way they are now, especially with decades of memories of how they were, knowing every tree and root, flower and rock. But we hope, like you have expressed, for steady progress now. My warmest thanks to both you and Dave–

      • I can only imagine the feelings of knowing what it was and seeing what it is. May hope bloom as the wildflowers. We stand steadily cheering and sending positive energy.

    • Yes, it’s been quite a devastating time, John. The apartment we are renting is near the Bay, so we focus on the tides and the beauties of the water, and just go up to the house once a week. It always takes about two days to recover from the house visit. Thanks so much.

    • Thank you, Jill, for your kind thoughts, they are much appreciated. There is nothing so perfect as the rising sun every day, to remind us to keep moving forward.

  3. It sounds like a long and painful process, but I’m sure things will get back to normal in the end. Loved the photographs – they are beautiful plants. All we have is a few Spring Meadow Saffrons popping out as the snow melts, though our mini-daffodils are trying their best. 🙂 All the best to both of you.

  4. I love the thought of wildflowers saying, “Look at me now. Not tomorrow or on the weekend.” I will think of it often now when living in the moment and/or contemplating impermanence. Might share it with my granddaughter, too.

    Beautiful flowers in your area! Hope things start speeding up in the restoring of your home to a place with electricity!

    • Yes, we have such beautiful wildflowers here. Sometimes it’s hard to believe they are really wild, especially some of the lilies and the azalea. My thanks for your encouraging and warm words, Barbara.

    • Thanks Bertie, I am happy to share the electrical pole improvement. You’re right, it is a small step, but it is a forward step, and that’s what advances us to the next stage. I hope you are doing well–

  5. A bittersweet post – it must be so hard for you both to make the weekly visits to your home and see how slow the progress is. On the plus side, when it happens, you’ll be returning to a recovering mountain full of beauty, and what a relief that’ll be.
    Enjoy the long weekend and warm spring sunshine down by the water!

    • Yes, those trips back to the house are difficult. I never sleep afterwards for a day or two. But this week was the best visit yet, with the triumph of the pole. Next we have to wait for the power company to approve the pole, and then they “energize” it, i.e. send the power through. Meanwhile, we are having fun down by the water. Made another trip to Angel Island today, 75 degrees, and a lovely long hike. Thanks and smiles to you, pc, and mrs. pc too.

  6. How awful that must have been for you, Jet, and for all the little birds and other animals who lost their lives to the fires. It will take time for the plants to come back, but gradually they will.

    • Thank you, Anneli, for your understanding. Yes, the birds and the animals are slowly coming back, like the plants. It’s the trees, those mighty old oaks, that will take many, many years to create a forest and woodland again. But little-by-little more growth will emerge.

  7. I love that you are trying to stay positive about this, Jet, though it must have been extremely stressful, not to mention the heartache. It’s great to see signs of life. Nature is unbelievably resilient, thank goodness. Wishing you joy this Easter, wherever you can find it. 🙂 🙂

    • My warmest thanks, Jo, for your thoughtful words. It is very stressful, especially dealing with the extra thick layers of bureaucracies. But I find it’s just easier to get up each new day if I keep moving forward and, something I know you know a lot about …I walk and walk and walk off the stress. Cheers my friend, and my happy Easter wishes to you–

  8. “As the earth awakens in this recently ravaged corner of the world, I listen to the sweet trill of the finch’s song, my eyes scanning the deadened forest for signs of life.

    And somehow, I guess from studying the forest for all these years, I know that it’s going to be okay.”
    I love these words to go with the hope for the future, and the power of nature.
    May you also find your roots again and bloom anew 💛

    • Dear Val, thank you for your words of wisdom. I seem to be finding my roots, a little at a time, and the blooming is starting too. My warmest thanks and smiles, my friend–

  9. All these wildflowers are so beautiful, even if as you say, some of them are there only fleetingly. With four seasons in the year and the weather changes we get, natural time can pass relatively quickly, but in the greater scheme of things a year or two is just a blip in the millenniums. It is unfortunate for us (you) that when waiting for something, time slows down, sometimes to a virtual stop. I hope you are able to back into your home sooner rather than later.

    • Your perspective on time is spot-on, Alastair. And I am happy to share the wildflowers of our region with you, some are different than yours, but sometimes I see similarities, too. I hope your weekend is sweet and that you have great walks with hundreds of memorable sounds to accompany.

  10. Hi Jet 🙂 I love seeing all the pretty wildflowers! Wow! Thank you very much. 🙂 I am sorry to hear it is taking so long to get your home back together. I have faith that like the wildflowers you will return to your woodland home. 🙂 ❤ It looks like a very special place.

    • Thank you Sarah, for your visit and warmth. I know you appreciate the beautiful flowers and birds in your home environment, and am glad I could share some of ours with you. Yes, our woodland home is a special place, and even when it is in such a state of torpor and the forest is wiped out, there is still something very peaceful on the mountain. Looking forward to sharing more sometime soon.

  11. Your entire post gave me the chills and that is in a good way….chills meaning moved me, not scared me. My heart goes out to you and Athena and all those impacted by the fire. It is a truly slow rebuild and frustrating process as it takes so long with so many people impacted and so much to be rebuilt. Yet through all of this, your message rang loud and clear to look at the positive and appreciate what there is and what we have in the moment! Life can change so quickly! Love the pictures and miss so many of those flowers (just not the same here in the desert as it was in San Diego). My best to both of you!!

    • Thanks so very much, Kirt. The thing about tragedy striking is that it strikes one day, and then all the days after that life just keeps spinning on. So who knows what else can happen after that, and best to embrace the days thereafter in whatever ways we can. Glad you enjoyed the wildflowers, they are stunning, aren’t they? Warmest thanks for your kind message, and my best to you for a sweet Easter weekend.

  12. I’m sorry that your trials are ongoing, but there is progress whether in green shoots or a new electric pole. It is good you see the positive side of things, Jet. Athena’s photos are wonderful – such lovely flowers you have there!

    • Yes, you are right, Eliza, progress expresses itself in different ways…best to be alert to all its many forms. I’m glad you enjoyed the wildflowers, oh flower friend of mine. Thank you for the visit and lovely words.

  13. I was struck by this: “There are many problems in the area with infrastructure, not enough repair crews, debris removal, and interminable delays.”

    For the seven months since Hurricane Harvey, those same realities have been part of life for so many here in Texas. It’s a reminder that whatever the cause — fire, flood, earthquake, tornado — the effects are similar, and equally painful. The gap between what was and what is can be almost unbearable — but in that gap the flower, the cloud, and the power pole affirm that this, too, will pass: healing and restoration will prevail.

    • Thank you, Linda, for the update on Hurricane Harvey and Texas in the aftermath, and the reminder that there is healing as we move forward. I hope this weekend is one of sweetness for you–

  14. Oh Jet, you have suffered a terrible loss and I’m so sorry to hear that all these months later so little progress has been made.
    … and yet at the same time, there is so much hope in your words. Spring has a way of doing that and nature is a force that can’t be stopped. As all the new growth starts in your burned out corner of the world, I hope for speedy progress that returns you to your home.

  15. I thank you, Joanne, for these heartfelt words. And you’re right, spring is so much about bright new starts, so we move forward in spite of the losses. Thanks, too, for your sweet wishes for us, much appreciated.

  16. I always find it miraculous, how plants/flowers/bees/ants find a way to be rebirthed after a harsh event, like fire, or earthquake, or here in New England, winter. I’m sure these wildflowers help your (astounding) patience, knowing it will be okay.
    P.S. Have you visited the wildflowers in Marin County at the Old St. Hilary Preserve (in Tiburon)? They have some rare, endangered wildflowers there but it’s easy to miss them. There today, gone tomorrow.

    • It is uncanny that you asked about St. Hilary’s, Pam, because we took a walk up there just today, specifically to see the wildflowers. And we were not disappointed. We saw about a dozen different species, and it was glorious. With the water seepage that trickles through St. Hilary’s, there are a few different native wildflowers. They have wild morning glories, yellow lupine, brodeia, blue grass, lots of poppies, and more. We were bent over them, admiring, when one of the caretakers came by and talked to us, told us the wildflower names, and when to come back for later bloomers. she was knowledgeable and friendly, and had a good story, too. It could not have been more perfect. Even though you are no longer living here, you are still tuned-in to the nature here…I like that.

      • I’m so glad! I used to work for Tiburon’s Landmark Society, and Old St. Hilary’s is one of the Landmark’s responsibilities. There are some long-time residents who take care of the town’s history and landmarks with great love and kindness. You may have met up with Helen, who lives nearby and treats Old St. Hilary and its land like beloved family. ❤ Oh, and my guy and I were married in Old St. Hilary, and then many years later, so was our daughter, so yes, always connected. 🙂

  17. Gosh, Sweet Jet!!! I must live under a rock. I didn’t realize You were in the middle of those fires. I am so sorry!!! Hope all the paperwork and such gets sussed soon so rebuilding can begin. I lived in CA for years and know how very intense those fires can be….and used to volunteer for Tree People. We went out and did some reforesting in the mountains after one huge fire. It looked like a war zone. Your post is so lovely….You brought tears to my eyes with Your thoughts on what You are going through and Your take on Spring and wildflowers….Your pictures are gorgeous!!! Beyond. And I’ll never be able to look at a wildflower again without hearing, “Look at me! Look at me now!!!” My sweet boyfriend and I LOVE the wildflowers and he has allowed me to dedicate a truly large portion of our yard to just let things grow and be as they see fit…so the wildflowers have a party!!! I’m sending You tons of Love and Well wishes and thoughts of You posting how wonderful it feels to be home sometime soon!!! Thanks for sharing so much beauty. You brightened my day! Happy Easter!!! 💖😊💐☀️

    • Dear Katy, thanks so much for this cheerful and warm support, it is much appreciated. You are not kidding when you say it looks “like a war zone.” That’s exactly what it looks like. I love knowing that you volunteered for Tree People and helped to reforest mountains after a wildfire. And I am smiling that you are inspired to stop and look at the wildflowers, but based on your nature, I think you probably already did that. My warmest thanks to you and a very Happy Easter to you and your boyfriend.

    • Yes, for sure, Belinda, the sounds and sights of spring are very encouraging. And getting outside helps so much too. Went on a great hike today at a marsh and watched a mother swan lift off her nest to reveal five large eggs underneath her. Thank you for your encouraging kindness, Belinda.

  18. One of the things about living that always shakes me is that after a huge loss, like the loss of your house and your trees, everything else around us keeps going. And you look out onto the world and it seems amazing that time didn’t stop. And sometimes I feel anger. Anger at everything and everyone not grinding to a complete and total halt in light of this deep loss. But, as you so eloquently expressed it, time passes (slowly) and progress (in one way or another) begins to happen and we are made whole (or almost whole) again. And it is so painful and almost unbearably beautiful. Thank you for sharing this story Jet. It’s a great reminder that “I know that it’s going to be okay.”

    • Dearest Sylvia, I am honored by your warm and heartfelt words here today, thank you. You touched it spot-on with “it is so painful and almost unbearably beautiful” in regard to pain and loss and grief, and the mystery of passing time. Thanks so much for today’s exchanges, what a gift.

  19. Despite Nature’s worst calamities, there will always be rebirth. I’m glad these beautiful wildflowers give you some pleasure and hope.

    I’m sorry to hear it is taking so long for your own recovery from your losses to commence. I hope you are remaining in good spirits, or as best as is possible during this difficult time.

    • Thanks so much, Draco. And you are right, regardless of nature’s worst, rebirth does come. Your kind words here are much appreciated, and as well, I really enjoyed seeing your version of SF in your two-part series. Lots of life to celebrate, thank you.

  20. Good morning Jet. It wont be long before the scarred earth surrounding your property will begin to look fresh and new again. Witnessing Mother Nature as she heals is always miraculous to behold, reminding us all that change is inevitable and that through the change Nature always continues.
    Wonderful news about the electricity pole….a good reason to crack open a bottle of champagne 🙂 One small step at a time….Janet

  21. A post to delight,to cry,to be deeply touched,and to hope,dear Jet.When I saw the first photos my heart started pounding with joy and was filled with the warmth of the beautiful wild flowers.Loved all of them,irresistible their beauty;the Gold wire with the Ladybug nicely displays the sophisticated relation between flowers and insects.The loftily standing Shooting stars or Dodecatheon,caught my attention because of their beauty and their name,presumably,they are named after the Twelve Olympians Gods,What an honour … But when I saw the” dead land” around your house,tears filled my eyes.It’s a real miracle how new life is shooting from every crack to embellish the ambiance again.One of your most brilliant posts,dear friend,you must send it to all the US newspapers and magazines for people to read and know what nature and people have suffered.Sorry,for my bad English,I am overwhelmed both by the beauty of all your photos and by the bitter feelings of the tragic sisuation.Time is the best medicine now,for nature and people.All will be born from ashes.but it will … I hope you had a peaceful Easter Sunday.All the best to you & Athena 🙂

    • Dear Doda, thank you, my friend, for your passionate and moving response to the rebirth post. You captured all the elements of my message and embraced them, and I am grateful. It is challenging to stand there in the dead land, sorting out in my mind the luster and beauty and life-filled past, with the shocking ravaged state of the present. Thank you for coming to that place with me, and for being there. We go up every week, and it never gets easier, as I thought it might. But next week when I go up, I will have you there and this makes it easier, my friend. Thank you, dear Doda. PS – We had a peaceful and beautiful Easter weekend. My best to you–

      • Can’t thank you enough for your generous response;I am so glad that you can always sense that what I write comes straight from my heart.Take care,my good friend Jet 🙂

  22. Oh, this is an emotional post to read, Jet. I so feel for you and the environment, but I also know that nature is resilient and it will all be okay again. Just requires patience and more patience. All the best from me and Dylan.

    • Dear Helen, thank you for your warm wishes and kindness from both you and Dylan. To hear you speak of the resilience of nature, as you recover in a brilliant and resilient way from your own set of tragedies, is a warm hug. Thanks so very much.

  23. Your words and Athena’a beautiful photos brought tears to my eyes. I was so touched by your reminder to look now and not later and your strength and wisdom as you were listening to the birds and watching the slow awakening and thinking “it’s going to be okay.” I can’t imagine what you have gone through not being able to return home after this length of time and dealing with all the changes to your property, the frustrations of rebuilding and the lack of progress and I’m glad to hear something has finally happened. Thank you for sharing your words of a strong spirit standing among the wildflowers and grass fighting against the “scarred earth” and being able to see the beauty of the moment.

    • Dear ACI, my warmest thanks for your compassionate words and encouragement, here you brought tears to my eyes. In the week since I wrote this post, there has been continued frustrations that stem from each new “improvement” and so to read your words here is a gift and a reminder that strength and hope will carry us through. There were many storms in the past few days but today the sun is shining and there are no winds and it’s Sunday morning and I have the day off. So I will dance through this day with your kindness within me, and hope that as you go through your current difficulties, you feel the strength and sweetness of life where you are.

  24. A heart-breaking yet beautiful post, Jet. Reminds me that there are so many things in our lives that we should look at now.

    • Thanks very much, Nan, I’m glad you were reminded of the importance of being present. It can be painful at times, but it is always the path to healing. Sending love and thanks–

  25. Fantastic and heartbreaking at the same time. Nature always strives to right the wrong and reset herself. There are powerful lessons in this for us all. Well done, Jet.

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