Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Circle the Wagons

Do you remember your first little red wagon? My neighborhood little friends would grab our their little red wagons and cart around from house to house whatever was the plan for the day. We might be having a backyard swim get together and we were too little to carry everything so, grab the wagons.

Might be a swim party so, needed towels, beach balls, etc. Don't forget the P&J sandwiches and snacks. We became good planners. Sometimes the dogs came along to get a neighborhood bath. You might say, we also learned how to be very respectful of using water. Of course these were when the pool was just a small summer yard pool. When there was a crowd then the water sprinkler was set up.
Without thinking about it, many of us were learning and honing the skills necessary for navigating the 21st Century. 

Reflecting on the "rights of passage," when moving out of the family home, many new skills and experiences are added to one's personal toolkit.  

I had the opportunity to reside in a small group of cabin tenants. The landowner was from Germany and had built four small cabins on his land by hand. This will be my first experience to use a fireplace for heat. In the 20th Century those were cabins. 
The 21st Century calls them "tiny houses." 

Another member of the cabin community was a nurse. She worked the ER room in the winter. We all benefited learning a few emergency aid techniques.
We as a community learned to be good listeners or what the "debriefing process" meant for a friend after her night in the ER at the nearest hospital. I remember the night she said, NEVER stand in front or behind the person swinging an ax.
Becoming a tight community expands the friendship circles. Our little cabin community had a connection to the spelunkers in the area. In the 21st Century, one might call this group, your social media connection. These cave explorers were known to be fun and very experienced at Caving Rappelling.

Moving west, I brought this toolkit and added to it, once again. 
  • Never stand in front of someone operating a chainsaw. 
  • Never venture into the woods or walk the line alone. 
  • Always carry a compass and in the Winter, supplies to start a fire. 
At one point, all of the new experiences and learning landed me a job with the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, as an engineer assistant building logging roads. These skills in my toolkit, now put me in the field during 20th Century forest fires. Tiny house living allowed me to adapt to living in a van. This was necessary as a spotter for firefighters on the ground.
Adrenaline runs high for everyone. The "debriefing process," does not take place at the end of the day. It happens when a crew can be replaced and that might be days. 
A fire fighter ground crew needs spotters from high on the ridge. A retardant plane drop or a water bucket drop happens because someone has eyes on the ground crew and the fire's movement. This now becomes my new job training. My toolkit is growing into a tool box. Lots of knowledge in this box. 

Those fun cave rappellers in my social group, were now replaced with Fire Academy Rappellers: Trained firefighters, rappelling down a rope with tools in hand from a hovering helicopter. They extinguish the fire and are hoisted back to the helicopter. Headed to the next called-in report of a lightning strike that hits a tree resulting in a burning tree fire. Why?
Minimizing the growth of a larger wildfire and safety for the firefighters on the ground. 
Once again I am circling the wagons, trying to piece together all of the actions learned when younger. As an elder, giving support to younger citizens places my stories into the position of the Mentor and Storyteller.