Just this past week, I had two conversations about community. One person described community as part of an employment opportunity and the other used it in the sense of a cohort, or as a group of people close in age with a shared interest. Synchronicity was definitely at its best and working overtime as I had already decided that my theme for this week would be community. I had never thought about it so much as when the Sonoma Valley Fires occurred. I am lucky to be a part of several communities now: Texas (my birth state), California (new home), Yoga Community (my local yoga studio) and a myriad of others as I mold myself with age. During this frightening time, my communities gave me love and support, kept me informed of town statuses, and provided a lasting sense of stability.
What does the word "community" mean to you? Do you feel you are a part of a community? If so, how does your community serve you and how do you give back to your community?
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
I had another restless night of sleep. I had joined a text messaging service the day before to be alerted of fire updates and all night long my phone pinged. I awoke to over 20 text messages from this service with notifications about the rising death toll, street closures, new evacuations and the fire speading. I woke up afraid.
I was exhausted. I had spent hours the day before on social media searching for answers to all of my questions and talking with concerned friends and family. I found my friends from my local town of Sonoma were broadcasting updates on Facebook continuously (some biking around town to take pictures!) and others were posting to ask for donations for a previous employer I care deeply about. My Texas friends were getting word of my whereabouts and texted, called and messaged me. My introverted self was on overdrive, but with only 3 hours of sleep, I sure did feel revved up with no where to go, a sure sign that anxiety was high.
Once the smoke had decreased a bit, my friends and I decided to go on an outing. We went shopping for food and clothing. It was nice to get away for a bit, but so odd to find so many wearing masks. It looked as if a deadly outbreak of a virus had occurred. Of course, I refused to wear the mask although I could feel the tightness in my chest.
That evening, my friends and I cooked a wholesome dinner for our generous hosts.
After dinner, we hiked to the top of a beautiful hill and the sky was partially clear. We could see no fires and the brisk air felt cooling on my skin. It was wonderful having a haven in Petaluma with a kind family as my host. We worried, laughed, cried, drank and ate together. I felt grateful to be part of a group. I almost felt like I was on a mini-vacation, but the smell of smoke always brought me back to cold reality.
As evening fell, I began to doubt my innocent hope that the fires would dissipate after one day. Weather forecasts alerted wind gusts would pick up that evening spreading the fires out even more. There was even talk that fires were beginning to close in on Petaluma. I took Melatonin to help me fall asleep although I was troubled that the rumors might be true.
I'm grateful for my COMMUNITY.
Update: I woke up in a smoky Petaluma even though quite a bit had cleared out yesterday afternoon so much so that I saw a patch of blue sky. It smells even more so like a BBQ. The sun is an eerie orb of red-orange in a smoke-filled sky. Petaluma is a safe haven. My neighbors who live on the same property as me in Boyes Hot Springs says it’s super smoky but safe. I’m thankful wind gusts were little to none last night. The individuals who live at SDC are safe but I heard some property/buildings burned. I have power at my place but a few blocks down on 12 there is no power. Work has been cancelled again today. I have many friends who can’t return home at the moment and have no word on if their belonging and property are in tact while others have lost homes, schools and/or work places. My heart goes out to everyone. I’m in awe of watching the community pull together to volunteer, communicate news and/or donate.
Here is a summary of what has occurred in my area. Seems evacuation for city of Sonoma has been lifted.
"A serious, critical, catastrophic event’: At least 21 dead as California wildfires spread" - Washington Post (Click Me)
My friends Shauna Rowley and Dan Cortright are keeping up a steady stream of live news... below are pics about 5 minutes down the road from where I live at 12 and Madrone.
Pictures of Sonoma Facebook (Click Me)
Ok... finally found something to try to keep track of surrounding fires. I hope this helps...
Map to Track Sonoma Valley Fires (Click Me)
Sonoma Sherriff Live Video of Fire Update Facebook (Click Me)
Please share!Sonoma raceway "Sears Point" is opening up their 50 acres camping area to any one that's been evacuated. Please get the word out to everyone in need.