Monday morning I knew autumn had arrived, riding the tail of a brisk breeze from the north that dropped temperatures nearly twenty degrees. Robe wrapped tight and relishing the chill, I sipped coffee in my pajamas rocking on the deck of a log cabin nestled in the woods above a dry creek bed.
We were at a rental lake house, guests of my oldest son's girlfriend's dad, along with his mom, his girls, their friends, my boys and Tommy's friend Ryan. It was just the change of scenery I needed after being on my feet eleven hours on Saturday and six on Sunday: fajitas, wine, a hot tub, my first game of beer pong... (Tom and I lost, of course. How could we compete against college kids?)
One of the college girls is a San Antonio Spurs Cheerleader; it took awhile but we finally convinced her to teach us part of the audition dance. ("Us" included my boys. I was one proud mom! That took guts - and resulted in lots of laughs!)
We kept one eye on the television, though. Unfortunately, the dry, brisk breeze that brought such beautiful weather also helped stir up and spread wildfires all over Central Texas Sunday afternoon.
I worried about my puppies, but my neighbors promised to let us know if the Hollow was threatened with fire danger, so before heading home we all drove to a beautiful picnic area on the banks of the Colorado River.
A rope swing beckoned. It took awhile to get up my nerve (and Tom had to mention "Bucket List") but I finally took my turn, swinging out over the river and splashing down into its cool depths.
Ah, such summer sweetness!
It was truly a glorious day with blue skies and perfect temperatures, but driving home, seeing the towers of smoke from wildfires to our south and east, we prayed for rain instead.
A few hours later, I noticed the blue sky over the Hollow had turned a hazy gray. I stepped outside and the smell of smoke hit my nose. I envisioned a wall of fire just over the next hill, racing toward us.
With a blue sky above you, it's easy to feel detached from the danger even while you pray for those affected and worry about it coming close to you. When smoke fills the sky and your nose, detached uneasiness can flare into full-fledged panic. At least that's the way it affected me.
I searched the sky in all directions, but thank goodness no distinct columns of smoke, black or white, rose above our surrounding hills. That helped douse the panic, but I had to make sure nothing was sneaking up on us, so I grabbed my keys and drove to a nearby hill where I had a 360 view. That hazy gray smoke wafted toward us from across the lake, obscuring the horizon and washing out the blue sky, but no fires burned near us.
Yesterday, the winds were calm. The sky above us stayed blue. I kept an eye on the horizon but no smoke drifted our way, although I knew the fires are still burning around us, both old and new. But the potential remained. I knew it could be us just as easily as it has been Bastrop, Spicewood, Steiner Ranch, Pflugerville, Leander... and what would I do if fire turned our way?
Lists ground me, making me feel I have some control, even if it's an illusion, so I made an "Evacuation List", a reminder to me of things I need to grab if fire chases us out of our home.
The puppies, my purse, plus some items I can fit in a backpack: my external hard drive, my phone and charger, my camera and charger, a list of accounts and passwords, our medicine, a bottle of water...
No extra clothes or toiletries... they're replaceable. No books, family mementoes, heirloom quilts, wedding photos... I'd hate to leave them behind, potentially lose them, but they aren't crucial.
So tell me, what's on your Evacuation List?
Please join me in praying for the evacuees, for the firefighters and especially, for rain. Fires are also popping up near Houston. Over 3.6 million acres of Texas have burned since December - reportedly the size of Connecticut if you lump them all together.