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Recently Ryan and I had a break in-between projects down here in La La Land. We decided to make use of the time by taking a two week trip up north to visit family. The first week we stayed with Ryan’s parents in their beautiful new home in Chico, CA.
They purchased the house a few months after the Paradise Camp Fire burned down their home of 25 years in November of 2018. His parents are still getting used to the quirks and differences of the new house, but we are looking forward to making new memories with them there.
While we were based in Chico, we took a tour of our burned out hometown. We wanted to see how things are progressing almost a year after the Camp Fire. We visited the site of Ryan’s parents old home, our old neighborhood, and my parents lot as well. I think it’s part of our grieving process. These pictures are what it looked like right after the Camp Fire moved through Paradise.
We had been living down in L.A. for almost 5 months when Paradise caught fire. And in the aftermath we experienced something along the lines of “survivors guilt” – that we had missed it by that much. That we weren’t up there going thru the ordeal with the rest of our friends and family.
We were aware of how much had been lost. We lost things as well. But, we weren’t up there to experience it first hand. And, it felt weird.
So, we found ourselves driving the once familiar streets of Paradise. Only now, it’s so easy to lose our bearings because familiar landmarks –buildings, signs, even specific trees — are gone. In their place are large, flat, dirt lots; burnt out cinder block shells; and huge piles of cement rubble and twisted, rusted metal.
And, we have truly begun to process that loss. It’s a loss nowhere as great as that of our friends and family. They had to escape thru flames only to have no home to which they could return. But still, it’s a loss none the less.
Things are slowly starting to move forward in Paradise. There is certainly a long, difficult road ahead, but there are many who are determined to do the work to heal, and see it thru.
While we were driving on one of the roads, I was constantly struck by how very little was spared by the flames. Then, I looked out and saw, in a burnt out grove of trees and brush, a pine tree. A pine tree that had all its branches burned.
I won’t forget the image of those stark limbs stretched out, completely blackened and completely bare.
And yet, the tree had begun new branches. Sprouting straight out from it’s trunk. Vividly green and coursing with life. The branches were short and kind of awkward looking. The tree is taking on a new, odd sort of shape – almost like a furry telephone pole. But that tree is persevering. It won’t stop growing. It’s determined to hang on, to survive, to start a new life. And from the looks of it, it’s going to thrive.
Keep going Paradise. You’re on your way.