“In Mourning”

McKenzie River before the fire
Fire along the McKenzie River

When Charlie and I first discussed plans for our honeymoon, I said I would love to go white water rafting on the Rogue River in southern Oregon. This discussion took place two years before our wedding and demonstrates that a woman overcome with hormones will say almost anything. The one time that I had gone white water rafting with Charlie and the kids, the photo taken in the biggest plunge doesn’t show me. That is because I had flung myself onto the bottom of the raft.

So I proposed that we spend a week in a small cottage on the McKenzie River in Central Oregon. That way we at least were next to, if not on, a river. We rented a small unit next to the river and spent a week exploring and reading, him doing more of the first and me doing more of the second. At one point we drove through the McKenzie Pass into central Oregon. By the middle of June, the Pass was opened for the first time of the year, having been closed for snow until then. The week was lovely, full of rest, recreation, good food and gorgeous surroundings.

This week fire destroyed both sides of the McKenzie River, taking out several small towns, restaurants and places to stay and camp along its banks. It will never recover. I feel a physical ache when I think about Oregon and the destruction that drought, wind, fire and climate change have produced. Ignore the debate still senselessly going on in my country about reality. One has only to look at the two photos to understand things have changed. Reality trumps unscientific blather every time.

45 thoughts on ““In Mourning”

  1. I hadn’t realised Oregon was also on fire. We’ve been so flooded with images of California burning.

    What hurts most of all is that while many of these fires are acts of nature, thousands of them each year (across America) are deliberately started by arsonists. They should all be branded as terrorists when caught. All of them.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. We had several friends who evacuated from Ashland and Medford last week. We’re in a pretty safe in a mild spot right near the northern California coast, but fires surround us to the north, east, and south. Today was the first day we saw the sun in six days due to all of the smoke.


  3. This is covered extensively on the BBC here, and it is sad to watch the tragedy unfold. Then Trump turned up, talked nonsense, and somehow made it all seem even worse by his smug presence.
    Best wishes, Pete.


  4. Our last summer (and many before that) were just a sad reminder that the force of nature is not to be laughed at.
    I just want to say…..we are thinking of all of you, whether you are right there in the middle of hell or further away just feeling the effects……we’ve been there before, have sent some firefighters to help and for those who believe have sent our prayers.


  5. This is tragic. I can quite see why you feel a physical ache, Elizabeth. My thoughts are with the folks caught up in this, and all the despair, loss and grief…….On a lighter note, you did amuse me with you reminiscences, and “a woman overcome with hormones will say almost anything”


  6. So many emotions bubble to the surface. Anger. Frustration. Fear. Disbelief, determination. Grief. It is such a horrible time in our history. I am still reeling from disbelief at how gullible the American public has become. I mourn for the people who have lost so much and have no Federal assistance to look toward.


  7. I know the McKenzie Pass. It is only open a few months of the year, and the views are gorgeous. These fires are so scary. Controlled fires, including the ones Oregon does purposefully, are actually good. When they’re out of control and not planned, it becomes a nightmare.


  8. This is disheartening. I often wonder what the real agendas of climate change skeptics really are. Everything has become politicized today but the politicization of science is a real menace to our society.


  9. This is so sad… first Australia, now America. And we (the planet) need all the trees we can get, let alone what it does to people’s lives and livelihoods.

    It’s small consolation right now, but I believe I’m right in saying that quite often after fires the land is eventually richer in nutrients than before: but I imagine it takes several years. Nature has an incredible ability to bounce back when not mucked around with by human beings.


  10. So many areas ablaze around the world, such tragedies. Those photographs and your memories combine to create a powerful testimony, Elizabeth. I’m so sorry 😔


  11. The loss of not just a beautiful river valley, but of a sense that nature is a constant. We all know that everything changes, but the scope and the violence of the fires is so upsetting. I keep thinking of all of the creatures who have been consumed or displaced, from tiny beetles to large mammals. It isn’t just us humans who are grieving, lost.


    1. And for a time there were warnings about not harming the wildlife who showed up in neighborhoods fleeing the fires too. I agree that is the sense of there always being the river valley that is now lost to me.


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