“Thank you, Firefighters” read sign after sign in Twisp, Washington, where the Mate and I just attended a wedding. Stark and plain on local marquees and readerboards or hand-lettered on cardboard or bedsheets hung at the ends of driveways, that’s how the folks of the Methow Valley are making their gratitude known. And now that I’ve seen how close they came to devastation, I understand that gratitude even better.
As it happened, I forgot my camera last weekend. But I wouldn’t have taken pictures of the devastation even if I could have. Biking along the lovely Twisp River, we passed an intersection with a steep gravel road marked with an American flag and a pile of flowers. I stopped to say a prayer for the three firefighters who died up that road. Then I rode on, sobered.
At the wedding we attended, we got to see the Methow’s finest in action ourselves–but because of wind, not fire. The ceremony and dinner were set in a beautiful, golden mountain meadow, and the wind was having a field day. Suddenly a vicious gust blew down the tipi-style tent under which several of us had taken our seats for dinner. The groom’s aunt was struck in the face by a wooden pole, knocked cold for a minute, and bleeding. Even though we were high up on a gravel road, even though he’d probably been first-responding to exhaustion point through weeks and weeks of helping firefighters, the first EMT was there within fifteen minutes. The ambulance itself, with full crew, followed ten minutes later. By the time the wounded guest was loaded up for hospital, she was chatting cheerfully with the medic, and everyone felt hugely reassured.
Wow, people. After this summer of destruction and death, to see you operate with such calm competence–well, it leaves me speechless.
So this is me, making my gratitude known. Blessings upon all first responders.