Saturday, September 12, 2020

Wake Me Up When September Ends

 While 2020 has been fucking awful, I had been able to mostly stay optimistic and not let anxiety, dread, and depression get to me too much. But this past week has broken me. A very close family friend passed away (not COVID and he had a lot of medical issues so not completely unexpected) and then the apocalypse hit Oregon. 

Pretty much the entire state is burning. I live halfway between Salem and Eugene

The forecast was for hot, dry, windy conditions. The winds were coming out of the east and the National Weather Service said we were going to have the Oregon version of SoCal's Santa Ana winds. I grew up in San Diego and know first hand how awful and deadly Santa Anas can be. We were under red flag warnings and critical fire dangers. This was only the second time that the fire danger has been this high in this part of the state. 

Work on Tuesday morning. There's hills back here hiding in the smoke

Monday was when things were supposed to start getting really bad. I went to the barn and rode in the morning (and yelled at the jackass next door mowing the dry as a bone overgrown field next to us) then hunkered down at home. Around 5:30 I got up to feed the cats and make a little dinner then went back to Netflix. About a half hour later I get a strong smell of smoke and run outside to see what was going on. The winds had shifted and picked up, and we were getting all the smoke from the fires. It was so bad you could taste it. 

More fires started up Monday night and Tuesday morning it felt like the apocalypse was starting. The air was pure smoke and ash, so bad I had to wear goggles while feeding our alpacas at work. Evacuation notices were popping up on my phone left and right and A’s mom called to see if a friend could use my horse trailer to evacuate their ponies. Thankfully everything was far enough away from us that I only felt mild panic. We busted ass at work and got the week’s critical work done on Tuesday just in case. 

I added an N95 mask for Wednesday and Thursday 

Tuesday afternoon I did decide to leave my truck hooked up to the trailer, just in case. I wasn’t worried about Peebs, but Cinder’s barn is in the middle of the forest on a small one lane road up a hill. If a new fire was to start, evacuating that barn was going to be hard. Trainer S did contact me saying she has put labels on all the halters with her phone number as well as the owner’s number and that all the horses were not getting worked and just light hand walking. I seriously debated bringing Cinder home so both of my ponies were in the same place, but decided against that. First Cinder would be all worked up and the boys at TCF would get excited with her back. No one needs to be worked up right now. Second, if we did need to leave TCF having one more horse there didn’t make sense. Especially since we have the two evacuee ponies. 

Peebs was very intrigued by Ari the pony mare. Filter on the photo from the smoke

Wednesday was the same as Tuesday with the fires still raging out of control and more and more of the state being evacuated. Last I saw some 500,000+ people have been evacuated, about 10-12% of the state’s population. Entire towns and communities are gone. Multiple barns evacuated and then had to evacuate again. The university I work for shut down early on Wednesday (and is still shut down) because the air quality was so awful multiple buildings on campus had their fire alarms going off. I’m essential staff so I went in on Thursday to check animals and then left. My manager had me stay home Friday.

Thankfully the winds have died down and shifted, and the temperature has dropped. It looks like the fire crews are starting to get a handle on the fires, as there aren’t as many evacuation notices popping up. It is supposed to rain next week and I’m crossing every crossable and doing rain dances. After pretty much not leaving my bed on Friday I’m feeling less anxious and strung out, but the threat won’t be over till the rains start in earnest in October/November. My plea to you dear reader is this, listen to scientists about climate change, and vote for officials that do the same. 


  1. Fellow Oregonian here. Have an extra 18 horses at our barn and have been praying we don't have to move 28 now somewhere else. I think with the shifting winds and hopefully rain we won't have to. Hope you and your ponies stay safe and take care.

  2. So frightening! I'm so sorry this is happening. Thinking about you guys and hoping you all stay safe!

  3. Ugh this fire season is literally going to kill all of us