Wild Fires

The loggers stopped at my aunt and uncle’s logging supply shop early in the morning to pick-up hard hats. They were driving north to help fight the fires, drawing lines around the burned Collier State Park, and trying to stop the flames from burning up the logging museum.

Crackle. Burn. Feel the heat. Breathe in the smoke. No way to stop, sometimes. Let it burn.

Other times – there are ways to stop. Dig the lines. Fly overhead for a vantage to drop the magic alchemy to quell the flames. We all try, to fight our fires.

Courtesy of Mom, image from September 2020

Always

Sometimes they are the phoenix, for us. Sometimes they are a complete loss. Sometimes they are heartbreaking. Sometimes they burn out. Sometimes, they don’t. Sometimes they can be controlled. Sometimes, they can’t. Sometimes they are needed. Sometimes, they aren’t. Sometimes they burst. Sometimes they hurt. Sometimes they heal.

Sometimes they are just as they are. Each fire needing a different approach based on conditions, terrain, history, climate, potential, the day, the moment, the years past, the years to come.

We fight our fires, and those of others.

Thank you, firefighters.

Thank you.

It Matters

There – I was – carrying the purple starfish into the ocean.

I spotted it on the shore. Unusual, to have a starfish exposed out of the water’s reach like that. Underneath the bright rigid carcass were hundreds of its little soft white legs, still.

Suddenly, I was marching into the waves with a half-dead starfish in my hand. The water splashing up onto my legs in an action with no other foreseen possibility to it.

Mid-stride, I saw myself as that woman – the woman in the image that I love, that a beloved friend, Kaycee, created. I got the print from her when we met by the river to go on a long walk – when my life had rerouted and I asked her how she handled her own unexpected rerouting of life in previous years.

“Find what lights you on fire,” she said, “and do that.”

She also said wine, and a lot of yoga.

The collage is a fable, a story, of a woman standing on the edge of the ocean among the starfish. It matters to this Starfish.

It is also a story that my mother shared with me a decade ago.

My mother told the tale of a person walking on the beach, and seeing all these baby turtles washed upon the shore. The person started picking up the beings one-by-one, and throwing them back into the ocean. Someone witnessed this and asked the person – “Why are you doing this? There is too many of them to matter.” The person picked up a turtle, threw it into the ocean, and replied, “Well, it mattered to that one.”

Kaycee’s image traveled with me to different homes, different rooms, different writing spaces. It is still with me, the windswept woman on a blue beach surrounded by red starfish.

And now, here I am, marching into the water with a half-dead starfish in my hand, trying to throw it beyond the breakers.

That woman, in that moment, when memory becomes truth; she had already lived it a million times before.

“It matters to this Starfish”

Because it mattered.