So It Goes (Again)

A contemplation on Paradise lost

Hey, North Bay. I just wanted to check in and see how everyone’s holding up. Staying indoors? Trying to keep the breathing to a minimum? Exhausted from feeling hyper-vigilant but not sleeping well? I hear you. It hasn’t been a great couple of days.

As the fires raged to the north over the weekend, on Saturday I drove over to Ramen Gaijin in Sebastopol for a little comfort food. It was a good move on a trying day (try the pickle plate paired with a dry sake), but the comfort was immediately forgotten when I stepped back outside and smelled the air. For the next hour, I sat in Taylor Lane Organic Coffee and people-watched through the shuttered windows. Tourists looked up at the sky in wonder. The locals wore masks and pressed on.

Even as a Tubbs fire survivor, I can’t imagine what the people in Paradise have been experiencing over the past week. The Camp fire moved so much faster, took lives so much easier than what happened during the 2017 wildfires here. The fire got people who were fleeing in their cars, and hundreds remain missing and feared killed, on top of the two dozen deaths already on record. Just trying to picture people dying as they tried to flee in their cars makes my blood run cold.

My mom asked me if I thought it was ironic that a town named Paradise burned to the ground, leaving some 27,000 people without homes. I told her that it wasn’t ironic, just a cruel coincidence. And the president of the United States tweeting his contempt for California first responders? That was just cruel.

On Sunday morning, the smoke outside my window seemed just a bit lighter than in the past two days. I’ll take it as a positive sign, although it’ll likely be another week or so until the skies are blue again, hopefully by Thanksgiving. Emphasis on hopefully—the weatherman’s got more dry, windy weather on deck for at least the next week.

On that note, I’ve made an appointment to give blood. I know it’ll do some good. I encourage you to donate a little blood too—or money or time—to those in need this week before the long holiday weekend. What you give may not seem like a lot, but keep in mind what Shakespeare had to say on the topic, as slightly modified by Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: “So shines a good deed in a weary world.”

Thomas Broderick is a contributor to the ‘North Bay Bohemian’ and ‘Pacific Sun.’

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