The fire.

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”

Hellen Keller

We have had a troubling summer in the Okanagan to say the least. The busiest tourist season I have seen in 14 years. A backward slide in our Covid recovery. And then the fires.

All of this has been heavy on all of us. But we are making it through as we always do. These things are not necessarily in our control but how we react to them is. And so I have been doing my best to adjust and adapt and stay positive.

Until last night.

As I sat on a patio having an early dinner with a group of friends, a little puff of smoke over my left shoulder caught the eyes of my companions. Along with most of the patio, I turned around to observe this little puff grow. Grow until we witnessed bursts of bright orange flames reach towards the sky with the angry and aggressive attitude that only fire can express.

It was frightening to see how fast this little puff turned into a full blow forest fire located seemingly directly above the town of Peachland and the homes that lovingly dot its mountainside.

By the time I reached home, the fire had expanded to another dangerous and encompassing nightmare. The winds fueling it along with the others already existing and uncontained. I witnessed water bombers track through the sky like highway traffic flows on the TransCanada.

I watched from my back yard as the smoke and red sunset haze filled my vision. And my heart began to break. I fought back tears as I thought of the men and women already exhausted from a summer filled with the battle against mother nature and all her fury. I fought back tears as I thought of families packing up to leave their homes. I fought back tears as I packed my own bag for ‘just in case’.

And I fought back tears from my own exhaustion of trying to stay positive in a time where there just seems to be no end to a battle we didn’t start and we can’t seem to end.

This is a trying time for all of us. We may occasionally lose the battle of staying positive but we must never lose the battle of staying kind. Being there for each other in our exhaustion and sadness. Reaching out a hand through our own tears to comfort a neighbor next to us that is fighting back their own.

It’s okay to cry for these times. It’s okay to stumble and fall. We have each other to get through this with. So please just be kind. Stop trying to place blame. Stop bashing the tourists for not knowing what we know. Stop berating the health officials for doing the best they can with the knowledge they have. Stop being unkind and start being helpful. Start being the solution and not the problem.

Be kind. Be compassionate. Be patient.

And be strong… this too shall pass and we shall persevere.

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