“Happy Birthday to me,” he thought, as the alarm woke him, with a startle. He’d worked all weekend on the fire that had begun with a single strike of lightening.
It grew from five hundred acres to over nineteen thousand in less than three days. The fireman told him it usually takes many days for a fire to grow with such viciousness. An unwilling, evacuated participant in this event said, “It is just evil, that’s all!”
He agreed. Today he was not driving his mechanic’s truck, and doing the repairs that were needed. He was waiting for assessment of the fire, and the plan to quell it’s unquenched need for tall pines incinerated by giant walls of flame.
It was three AM and he’d had a restless sleep. He thought of the firefighters on the job – always ON the job. He pulled on his boots and kissed the wife goodbye. He smiled as he went out the door.
Scorching heat, and that was just another summer day. As he reached the point that only special personnel could pass, the smoke lay on the floor of the valley but it was gaining momentum in the air, like a bank of fog rolling in at the coast.
His nostrils began to close up, and his eyes burned from the smoke in the air. He thought of the firefighters.
Briefly he was told what was happening, and then put on the dozer. Down in the valleys he went, and up the hills. Hour after hour, sweat pouring like the summer rain that didn’t come.
In the late afternoon he got a call that a fire truck was stuck and unable to move. His job was to pull it out, and fast.
‘Where is it?” he asked.
“Down into that valley that is ahead, and then up the hill. They should be there.”
But they weren’t. He reached the top of the hill and looked all around and no one was in sight. A muffled sound entered his right ear and instinctively he turned that direction. There on the next hill over was a fire truck with several men all on top, waiving frantically.
He hovered on top of the rough terrain, and made his way to the truck. Relieved, the firefighters were more than willing to help, if they were needed.
They looked ragged and dirty, but were outwardly still enthusiastic about putting this fire in its place of containment and then ending it once and for all.
He’d been given a gift. A gift of being able to visualize how anything mechanical should be, in order to work. He could see a resolve in any mishap of anything that needed to be fixed, or moved or rescued. He was a binder of that which needed to be bound.
Within the hour he had the truck up out of the mud, and up and running. A quick and sincere thank you from all concerned to the others, everyone made tracks to get this evil under control.
After sunset, after supper, after any time or desire to celebrate his birthday he’d totally forgotten, he came in the door.
He still had the love respond to the dogs joy to see him, with patience. His wife kissed him and told him to get off his boots and she would get his supper. “Happy Birthday” she said as she rushed to fix him a plate.
He was filthy and weary. He washed his hand, and he sat in his shorts, in his big blue chair. He waited for – he wasn’t sure for what now – he was so tired.
She asked him all about the day and he was ready to share then,only resting for a moment to take an occasional bite of the overcooked supper she’d kept warm.
He said, “I thought I was going to loose it going down the hill in the dozer today.”
“Was it exciting?” his wife asked. He rarely had fear.
“No. It was scary. I thought I was going to totally roll the dozer and me.”
She stared and gulped and became frightened for the first time.
“It was a good day,” he said, as meandered down the hallway in his shorts barefooted, boots in hand, and headed for a shower. “It was a good day.”
“Amen” she whispered.
Unbridled prayers, love, and appreciation to the fire fighters who put their lives on the line for us and the lands, and to all those who are a part of this endeavor to stop the fire in it’s path. It is a task that is daunting, to say the least. We all thank you with all our hearts.
By the way, the man is my husband, Michael – my gift from God.