The cities of Phoenix and Talent, next to Medford, have been burnt to the ground in the historic wildfires that raced through the Rogue Valley in southern Oregon.
When wildfires threatened my home, and my family, we had to flee from our southern Oregon community of Medford. At the same time a new reality dawned upon us; climate change was coming faster than anyone predicted.
It wasn’t that my wife and I didn’t believe in climate change. We just naively thought it was something our grandchildren had to face. The fact that the entire West Coast of America is now on fire has cast cold water on that theory.
There’s more signs across the planet that point to climate change, but we’re dealing with the worst air quality on the planet here in Medford, Oregon, and it’s got my undivided attention.
How we got here is no longer important. The dystopian future of famous fiction writers is reality. I look at the bruised orange sky from my backyard during the day and wonder if I’ll ever see blue skies again.
When my wife and I had to flee our home last week after a Level 3 warning of impending wildfires, it was a first in our forty-six years of marriage. As we raced to an evacuation center at the Jackson County Expo grounds, the fire followed us north in a shower of flaming sparks until we arrived safely at the designated sanctuary near Central Point.
We arrived with our five animals – three cats and two dogs – packed into our Nissan King cab pickup truck alongside family photo boxes, important papers, and food and water for us and the animals, and parked alongside 500 other vehicles containing refugees like ourselves. Most of us stayed in our vehicles because of the fear of COVID-19 inside the Red Cross refugee center.
My wife and I sat up all night. We couldn’t sleep. The thought that our house was burning, like hundreds of others, was a nightmare. When we found out that it was safe to come home we were relieved to find that our our house, and neighborhood, still stood.
I wish that I could properly recount my feelings. All I can say is that it’s a surreal feeling not knowing what happened to your home. You go for a ride on a roller coaster of fears that leave you weak and exhausted… until you find out that everything you owned was not destroyed by the fires engulfing the state you live in.
It’s been fun surfing on monster waves in Hawaii in weather so beautiful it was post card perfect. Those two beach bunnies were a nice touch. Literally. Heh! heh! Everyone was real nice to me, and smoking pakalolo with those two Philippine fishermen was a cool experience, but I want to wake up now.
There must be rules.
Nothing is wrong with me. I’m healthy and happy. Just sleeping. So why can’t I get up? Shakespeare wrote,
“Are you sure
That we are awake?
It seems to me
That yet we sleep,
In The Midsummer Night’s Dream.
This quote haunts me because I’m sure I’m awake, yet somehow dreaming at the same time. It stirs instincts from other lives that were hidden from my consciousness and are now scampering about like free rabbits in the wild.
What am I doing wrong?
Is it possible to forget how to wake up? Is that little piece of information in code somewhere in my unconscious? Did it grow tired of waiting for me to open my eyes and shrivel up? Way too many questions here. I have to pull back and not panic. I appear to be stuck in a nightmare. As soon as I get the right neurons to move from my cerebellum to the cerebral cortex it will go away.
Maybe I’m having the mother of all daydreams. Daydreams. That’s it. I’m having the most intense daydream ever experienced by a human. I don’t know why I was singled out for this dubious honor, but I’m over it. Time to move on. I have a life to live. Is anyone out there listening?
The heathen hoard clambered over the remnants of the consciousness wall, bringing madness to the chaos already imbedded there.
Reality is readily routed. The dreamer tries to break the dark ties, but only finds loathsome things like nightmares. Ghastly memories rooted in time tip-toe through their unconscious mind.
Unforgiving monsters stalk the sleeping brain, seeking tears by using fears built up through the years. Slumbering memories of sadness step around madness every night in a silent fight against nightmares and fears.
The gods comment: “Poor humans. They’re so frail that their minds are held hostage when they go to sleep.”
The interior lights were all turned off and a sense of something ancient lingered in the room. The lone resident was huddled next to the nearly dead fireplace holding onto a black iron poker. One charred log was still smoldering and a faint trail of smoke slithered into the darkness.
“Come out and show yourself,” the old man said in an unsteady tone tinged with fear.
No sound issued from the dark corner where the old man’s eye’s struggled to see what was lurking there. He sensed a presence. Whatever was in the corner, it was watching him.
Once he fancied he saw two glaring eyes. After standing for hours his legs were getting weak. It wasn’t responding to his repeated question, “What do you want?”
Polarized with fear and indecision, the man grew weaker. The black iron poker became too heavy to hold and fell onto the wooden floor with a loud thud.
No response from the dark corner.
A faint light slowly filtered through the curtains bringing a new day. In the yellow glow the corner revealed it’s occupant. A cat on a chair.
But the old man didn’t know that. He was sprawled on the floor, dead.