I got to go see Elly yesterday. She is doing great. They moved her and all her neighbors in the NICU upstairs to the intermediate NICU in pediatrics. We are getting to know the other parents, one family from Chadron and a couple from just outside Rapid. They are all very nice and we are all waiting impatiently to take our babies home.
Elly is doing good. They took the feeding tube out of her nose. It took me an embarrassingly long time to notice. I thought she looked so grown up, then realized something was missing. She is taking all her feed from a bottle now. The doctors keep saying she is so far ahead of where she is expected to be. They figure age and abilities on the proper due date not actual. The suckling instinct they keep saying shouldn’t come in until thirty four weeks. We are just waiting for it to improve, more weight gain, and maybe for her to finish the new round of shots she is getting. She wasn’t making enough new red blood cells, but they promised that it was a pretty common occurrence.
My visit was cut a little short though when my husband sent a text that a friend of mine who lives north of town was bringing her horses down, just to be safe. I decided that if it was getting that bad maybe I should go home. And of course I’m always sure that nobody can take care of my horses right but me.
The skies were blue as I drove south until I reached the state line. From there on the sky, the ground, everything was a sickly yellow brown. I’m used to the grass turning brown this time of year, as the Ian Tyson song says, “The range and the sky, buckskin and blue” but this was unnatural. In the distance plumes of smoke rose randomly from the skyline feeding the disgusting miasma that was masquerading as the sky.
The friends house and pastures are still safe and for the most part the same goes for most people we hear about. Houses at least. In the small groups of people clustered about town, in a grocery store isle or around a table at the fast food joint, stories can be heard in nearly reverential whispers as the fate of neighbors and friends are discussed.
We joined those groups on our trip to town today. One spread word of a school teacher whose house had been lost, another said “No, no they worked through the night and saved it.” A rancher was gently mocked for having bragged about the amount of rain he had received on this dry year, “Doesn’t do him much good now does it,” they shook their heads, “heard all his pasture burnt”.
We came into town from the south on the highway that had been closed the day before marveling at what had burnt. How close the fire came to those big fancy houses built in the timber. The one that had caught fire, what had been so different about that one? On one side in one small spot fresh saw marks were visible where some major tree thinning had been done. Before we left town though the radio broadcast the bad news. The highway was closed again. The fire had jumped the highway.
For once I’m glad Elly is far away in Rapid.