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with the thought of the demise of the meadows’ totem cedars. The grandfather trees that surround our house are so wide that four people encircling them would have to reach to hold hands. The product of centuries of growth, they had witnessed human life from settlers to space travel. Nature gives and nature takes away. We awoke to a barrage of e-mails offering help

from Vancouver to Verden! It felt wonderful that so many were sending support. Suddenly the silent tension was ended as the air was filled with the welcome sound of helicopters returning. Placed in the middle of two fires that had taken hold, we had ringside seats to what would be a several day battle between exhausted regular and volunteer firefighters and unpredictable nature. One aspect of this drama that was mind boggling was that we could drive in and out of it. Each night the council members and rangers provided updates during a public meeting held in the safety of the Pemberton community center. Makeshift beds housing local evacuees were pushed to the side of the auditorium as cinder- covered, black-faced, red-eyed unsung heroes in filthy fire gear took center stage to explain the military tactics for fighting Enemy Inferno. Relief fire-fighters were expected to fly in from Manitoba and Ontario. We would then drive back to our threatened

mecca. The unusual had become the new normal. It is amazing to me how quickly we can adapt to new challenges. We now had forty-two fire-fighters around our farm risking all to preserve what nature was trying to consume. Heavy helicopters were bucketing all day long in an endless monotony of collect and drop from the river.

“There are finally blockades on the Pemberton

Meadows roads to stop the thrill seekers. It is like a David Lynch scene; one drives by summer weekenders, tanned, laughing and playing volleyball into a thick cloud of nostril-burning smoke. You will probably find this weird but I am spring cleaning! I just feel I need to do something and make sense of a world that is chaos. You know domestic chores are my least favourite enterprise, and this may all end up kindling... but I finally got that hard to reach big cobweb! John is constantly moving his sprinkler system. Inside the main barn it is a haven from poor air and the cacophony of helicopters.”

We then became an object of media attention.

We were interviewed by a news crew. “If you saw

the 6:00 news you saw a really messy Jill. Somehow

16 May/June 2010

my make-up and decent clothes ended up in a box evacuated to who knows where?! Maybe I’ll start a new trend, pairing men’s trousers with a silk blouse and riding boots? The television interviewer was guiding me to criticize the fire crews for focusing on the resort town Whistler and letting the fire get out of control in our sparsely-populated area. I have nothing but praise for the emergency services. From what I see they have done a sort of fire triage— going where limited resources can save the most people and property. And we can still drive out of here if we choose to.”

Megan Livingstone, a lovely young newspaper

reporter, was allowed behind the barricades. I took her on a personal tour of our place, to several neighbours and to the highlight: the 90 second drive to the base of Camelback. We chatted away as she snapped photos and met people. Of course the paper would feature me sitting on a fence in my now established eclectic fashion sense, with the mountain on fire behind our Coverall (enclosed riding arena). My celebrity status in the media was nothing like what I had always envisioned; where was that perfectly tailored tailcoat and top hat, immaculate whites, age-defying make-up holding the World Cup above my head? Later she wrote a wonderful article (and got the cover!) about how we were all coping. But at that moment we stood silently with a

few awestruck companions as we watched the fury of flames literally consume the trees. We were captivated by the roaring orange devils dancing and engulfing what once seemed the indestructible grandfathers of the forest. Centuries of growth were wiped out in seconds. However, a new and valuable friendship was created that day. If you look hard enough, you can find something good in even the most dire situation.

COPING WITH THE CRISIS

Life went on: “The neighbors on the evacuation boundary are going ahead with a wedding reception! If the wind changes the party-goers may get more excitement than they bargained for. Still, one can sympathize with someone who has planned their special day long in advance only to have this happen. Hope the arrangements include a large barbeque!” On August 3rd: “This is getting hard to bear.

We went to the various places where the horses are billeted and the reality of all this hit. There were a lot of soggy manes. I forgot how little Lovanna—a three week old embryo transfer filly—actually is. My mare Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60
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