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Sadness and Gratitude

You probably have seen numerous photos and videos of the widespread devastation in northern California caused by the recent wildfires. Four of our friends lost their homes. Thousands lost their homes and businesses. Many lost their lives. The photo shows the view from Howell Mountain across the Napa Valley to the Mayacamas mountains to the west.

Sunday night, October 8, we fell asleep praying that one of the dozen giant trees surrounding our home wouldn’t fall and crush us to death. The wind was loud, fierce and relentless all night. We had gusts up to 65 mph. When we awoke and saw all the trees on our property standing, we thought our prayers were answered. We soon realized we were praying for the wrong outcome.

When we learned that wildfires in Calistoga spread to Santa Rosa within hours, we understood how dangerous and deadly that wind was. Many people had little to no notice of the need to evacuate. That could have been us. Our property is surrounded by dense forest.

Monday morning we did something we haven’t done in 38 years of marriage. We packed an emergency evacuation bag. This is supposed to contain all the stuff we just couldn’t live without if our house burned to the ground. Surprisingly it took us only a few minutes. More surprising is that our combined stuff fits into a small bag we routinely slide under an airplane seat.

Our hearts are heavy for all those who lost so much. God bless all the brave firefighters and other first responders who risk their own lives rescuing those of us in need and protecting the rest of us in danger. Many of them lost their homes while they were fighting to save ours.

It wasn’t that long ago that we reached out to our friends in Florida and Texas after the devastating hurricanes. Now they’re reaching out to us. What a year it’s been.

We haven’t harvested our vineyard yet. For the first time in 15 years it’s not important. Rain is in the forecast this week. Hallelujah!

We are especially looking forward to gathering with our family and friends in Chicago over the holidays. It will be comforting to be together again. Our continuing thoughts and prayers go out to all of those whose holidays won’t be as joyful.

Let’s raise a glass to all those who so desperately need our support now as they struggle to recover from the multiple natural disasters this year. With enormous gratitude, we now look for ways to raise their spirits and to support their recovery.

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