Post-fire renewal

We are among the fortunate ones that sustained very little damage from the Fort McMurray fire.  When we re-entered our home for the first time in a month, flanked by two reporters from Metro, it was not an unpleasant smell that we breathed into our lungs; it was actually the opposite.  As the windows had been shut and the furnace turned off, the air hadn't circulated for quite some time, but other than that that - and a washing machine that needed to be replaced - we had our home back.

Photo of our front yard taken May 29, 2016

In that first week of evacuation, we had no idea about our neighbourhood.  When our brother-in-law sent us a picture of our home, it was the first confirmation that we had that all was well. It brought tears of relief to my eyes. We had a sense in those early days that downtown was at risk; we know now how close it came, and how the dedication of the fire fighters really preserved this area of the community.  They were putting out flare ups all through the night when the fire ripped through the hills on the other side of the Clearwater River.

Both Heather and I have felt the need to clean, de-clutter and renew in the last two months.  She has focused on the inside of the house, doing a brilliant job - with design input from Ben - of repainting.  We also replaced our sofa set for the first time in our married life.

Now that we have my sister and her family in town, we've been having more family meals and discovering that we didn't have enough plates and cutlery to handle a larger crowd.  So, this week Heather decided to renew those items as well.

I've focused my renewal energies outside.  First, I ardently trimmed the grass in our yard, the neighbours yard, the yard across the street and the yard down the block.  Then, I started taming the jungle that sprouts up every May and June, both in our yard and the one next door.

A windstorm in our second week back caused one of trees to cleave and fall, which motivated me to connect with Quintin.  He and Dylan did an amazing job felling a couple of other trees on the property line that were risks.  It turns out they were also sun blockers.  Now that they're gone, we have much better light in the backyard.  The flowers are very happy, as are we.

As we've renewed, we've been able to give furniture and accoutrements away.  I can't tell you how happy it made me to see our much-loved sofa set have a second act with a family trying to recover from unparalleled loss.  The giveaways will continue as we do more culling and cleaning in advance of the fall season and the inevitable return of winter.


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