We had listened to music all the way home, and were relieved, oh, so relieved, to be home and to see it still standing. I cried driving up our little gravel road. I was so glad we’d left the hummingbird feeders completely full, but I worried about all the tiny birds breathing in all the smoke. The Rufous Hummingbirds had left, and the Annas took their places.
The sunflowers were still blooming.
And the tomatoes were still ripening.
But we could hardly see down to the bottom of the pasture.
We certainly couldn’t see across the valley.
I’d taken a video of the smoke before we left, and this is what it looked like then. It sure wasn’t much different now. Notice the hummingbird: he was so cute. He’d sit like this all day long, beating his wings for hours at a time, stopping only to chase away another rival for the feeder. I’ve never seen a hummingbird do this before. This was a Rufous Hummingbird, and he’d actually let me get really close to him.
Later, after getting the kitties and Hulunani settled and bringing some stuffs into the house, we drove over to our friends’ house to pick up some things from Nolemana’s car, like my CPU and spinning wheels.First things first, right? We decided to leave the car there for another day just to keep things simple for the time being. Driving home, Nolemana took photos of the terrible smoke. We could hardly recognize our neighborhood. I couldn’t even see beyond the curve.
Ordinarily we could see clear into Sunshine Valley from here, but not today.
Believe it or not, there’s a valley down there. I was always glad when other drivers had their headlights on, yet it was interesting to see how many of them didn’t, even after I flashed mine at them to let them know how difficult it was to see them.
There are actually hills up there in the gray. They were totally invisible in the smoke.
Our gravel road. What a welcome sight! But we couldn’t really see our house from here.
If anything, the smoke was worse when we got home. But the hummers still visited the feeders we had all around the house.
I came in and wanted to unpack, but Noelani, for some reason, decided my suitcase would be a good place to take a nap…the kitties were all so relieved to be back in familiar territory! Us too. We were relieved to see that Cinnamon was fine, too, though she was still a little hissy with Nolemana at first. Isn’t that a cool stripe ontop Noelani’s head?
What can I say. At this point, the air in our area was rated “the worst in the world among major cities”. We had to change the furnace filter twice in the week after we got home; I kept the fan on all the time.
A young Flicker came and took a bath in the birdbath; I imagined it was trying to get all the smoke off its feathers. Interestingly enough, many of my usual birds had gone. I didn’t know where they’d be able to go to get out of this smoky mess. The Rufous Hummingbirds had gone and the Annas were now taking over the feeders. Some of them still haven’t come back. I haven’t seen any Spotted Towhees or Chickadees even now that it’s two weeks later and the air has cleared. The Stellar Jays, Scrub Jays, and woodpeckers are here, and the Mourning Doves have finally come back; the Nuthatches finally showed up today and I just saw the first Chickadee!
I found that I was still living on adrenaline for days after we got home. I slept fitfully and felt like I was on high alert all the time. I was having a hard time eating, too, and startled even more easily than usual. The smoke was still so bad that I couldn’t go outside to walk. I was still worried about my four friends and their homes (they were finally able to go home last week and their homes are okay, mahalo ke Akua). A dear friend of mine had to evacuate for eleven days and I was telling her that what I went through wasn’t nearly as bad as what she’d gone through, yet here we both were, having some of the same symptoms. She reminded me that the length of time we were gone didn’t matter…the stress was still the same. That really helped. I also stopped watching most of the news and avoided anything having to do with hate and violence. That helped a lot as well.
I found that spinning helped to “soothe the savage beast” since it’s so meditative and calming.
On the 13th of September, according to the evacuation map, we were finally in the clear. Normal. The smoke was still bad, but we didn’t have to worry about evacuating anymore. Whew.
I felt so much gratitude to our girls for helping us out the way they did. They were wonderfully supportive and did so much to help us manage everything. They spent lots of time online finding us a motel room and places to try to eat at. While we were hurrying to leave, they did all the online work so that we didn’t even have to think about it.
The smoke stuck around till a huge thunderstorm came along and began to clear things out, also causing its own problems. But that’s a story for a different day.
Thanks so much for following along on our unexpected journey; knowing that you care means the world to me.