• Last modified 1698 days ago (Oct. 31, 2019)



© Another Day in the Country

It’s almost Halloween and costumes are on my mind. “Who am I gonna be?” With all the controversy about dressing up like other cultures, I think we’ve decided to be witches at this week’s “Trunk ’n’ Treat” at Centre Elementary…  I got that far into this week’s column and the phone rang.

It’s my daughter Jana who lives at the “Home Place” in northern California. calling with an update. Right about now, I’m really thankful to be in Kansas country and not in California. There’s fires raging again!

Through the years, one could pretty much expect a fire or two in southern California when the infamous Santa Anna winds would pick up in the fall; but fires in northern California were pretty much few and far between. Until the last few years, that is!

Our home is on what Californians call “a mountain” on the east side of the Napa Valley. These mountains have always been heavily wooded with trees so dense that it’s difficult to see just how many neighbors you have. It seemed that someone was always building another little house back in the woods.

Two years ago, the Napa Valley had fires going on all sides. It was difficult to know in which direction one could evacuate!

“That’s really nerve raking.” said my daughter, who kept her car packed and ready to leave for several weeks while they battled to get the fires under control. “You never know when the wind might shift.”

On Friday night Jana was in Napa, doing something she calls “Geek Night” with her young fencing students, when a friend called and said, “I think there’s a fire in your area.”

Immediately, she was on the phone with friends of hers in the volunteer fire department in Angwin. She found out it was a house fire, on her road, but luckily it was quickly contained.
By the time she got home, though, there was news of another fire raging in Guernville, over by the coast. Within a short time it was heading inland toward Santa Rosa.

Of course, there are all kinds of spots along the way where one hopes the fires can be stopped but soon on the news the little towns were being evacuated like dominoes falling down in a row, Windsor, Healdsburg, Santa Rosa comes next and then the hills that hide Calistoga and the Napa Valley.

Last weekend, Dagfinnr texted me, “Baba, are you there? Let me know so I can Facetime you.”

By some happy miracle I was “there,” and before you know it, he was on the phone showing me a cardboard box with four tiny chicks inside.

“Mom went to the feed store in Napa and look what she came home with!” His flock of two had now become six. What on earth do you do with four chicks and two hens in a small enclosure? Obviously, they are city farmers.

“We’ll keep them in the gecko cage for now,” Dagfinnr said. “Do you have any ideas?” Of course, I had ideas; but that could come later.

Within a few days, the utility company in California shut off the electricity to half of the state. “Dangerous circumstances,” they said, with all the wind. Anticipating power to be off, of course the natives are stocking up.

“There are long lines at the gas stations,” Jana said, “and food flying off the shelves at the grocery store.”

I’m thinking, “What about those chicks?” It’s chilly at night in the Napa Valley. With no electricity, there’s no heat at Dagfinnr’s house.

My daughter manages a spa in St. Helena and luckily they have a generator that kicks in when there’s no electricity, so the chicks went to work with Jana. “We looked like an animal shelter yesterday,” Jana reported on Monday morning. Anything “tropical” owned by the staff coming to work came to the spa for warmth.  

All thoughts of Halloween celebrations went right out the window as my concern for “life in California” becomes greater.  

While every locale has its down sides, I’m profoundly grateful to be in a sparsely populated spot in Kansas where the wind blowing like heck is NOT something new! It feels pretty good to be spending another day in the country.

Last modified Oct. 31, 2019