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Fire Season

Yesterday was the hottest day yet this year. Temps creeping into the hundreds. Rain has been nearly nonexistent. The winds that have howled all summer have sucked away the few drops we’ve received before the thirsty grass could take it in.
We had to go to town. On the way home as our frozen food melted in the trunk we drove towards clouds. At first it was exciting, the chance of rain to quench the parched fields.

As we drove though the lighting began hitting the ground ahead of us.

Watching the lightening come down out of the narrow strip of rain makes your stomach clinch and churn. It takes a lot less than that to make everything burn.

As we turned south towards home smoke was visible rising up to meet the clouds. From there I could tell though it was too far off to be us burning.

The relief of that is as great as the guilt for being glad it is someone else.

All evening small storms continued to roll through. Stepping outside to look at the sky and scan the horizon regularly I finally saw what I had been dreading.

Smoke.

Thick black smoke in the direction of the pasture where my cows are spending the summer. Staring intently and carefully gauging landmarks I decided it had to be north of them, the wind was still hard out of the south. They should be safe.

Just to be on the safe side I texted my husband to tell him I was going for a drive to check it out. Almost home from his job in town he said to wait, he’d go with me.
In his car we drove out. The smoke was well away from us. I texted a friend, yes it was by them but they were alright.

This morning the local fire dept. posted the story and pictures. 400 bales of hay and a few acres. Another one over a hundred acres of pasture.

Thankfully it wasn’t us but the drought shows no sign of breaking. Not this time doesn’t mean not next time.

We’ll keep watching the horizon for smoke and praying for rain.

Ghost Towns

As I reached for the old brass door handle, worn with time and use, thousands of hands opening the same door over the last hundred years, I was over come with a sense of our place in history and future wound together ad one.

As we stand now is as our ancestors stood before us. We all have our place in the story that time tells.

The old folks tell of businesses past, once thriving and new, now empty husks of buildings, windows blanks eyes staring into a time where they no longer fit. Their proprietors once active members of the community, helping those in need the best they are able, watching helplessly as the town died around them. We listen to them talk, trying to grasp the impossibility of what they say.

Now we stand at the entrance of one of the last business in town. Of course the required bar stays busy down the street.

The couple who run it are growing old. So is the building. Though its tiled tin ceiling is tall and unblemished by the ugly dropped ceilings that have defiled so many grand structures and in  the back the old hand crank elevator stands, a work of art in its utility and simplicity, the roof shows stains from leaks and the walls are cracked. Like on the owners, age is starting to wear hard.

How long will it be before the doors close here too? How long before a for sale sign falls to the floor, dreams of new owners long forgotten as windows break and the ceiling gives in.

We will be telling our grandchildren stories of a time when  we used to shop there. They wont be able to believe that we can remember back to a time when that old ghost town still had stores.