Miss O’Leary’s lantern

 Friday, on a little jaunt into the canyon we came upon the remains of campfire just a little way off the trail in a dry stretch of creek bed. A cocktail of judgement and jealousy were set astir in my heart at the sight of it.  Looking at those charred logs I recalled the camping trips in the heart of Utah’s wildfire season where evenings were spent gathered around a lantern in an otherwise barren fire pit.  “Shame!” I thought. “Shame on those unknown previous hikers!” Then I pictured longingly what fun it must have been to sit by the little fire toasting treats on sticks.  Watching them brown and blister to delicious perfection while the water gargled by and the wind rustled in the trees.  Darn those people and their blissful afternoon! How dare they! 

Until today the influence of wildfire season had only reached far enough to touch my camping experience.  Aside from evenings spent singing camp songs around a lantern, the fires were little more to me than stories on the news.

Today’s fire was close enough to make us pack our things and consider alternate sleeping arrangements should we be asked to evacuate. It is not in my nature to worry much, but Zizza was beside herself. 

Her Grandma reminded her that “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear” So Ziz did all she could do to prepare.

She packed up her suitcase and carried it out to the car.  She carried all of Grandma’s photo albums to the back door and then, for good measure she added the fuzzy throw from the living room and the family of plastic hamsters she enjoys playing with when she visits here.

She chided me for not packing the swimsuits I had laid out to dry on the bathroom counter.  “What if something happened to my swimsuit mom!” She admonished.  “Baby,” I told her “if your swimsuit burns I‘ll buy you a new one.” Then I explained that even if we had to evacuate I was sure the house would be safe while we were away, so there would be no need to let our wet suits mildew in our luggage in the mean time. 

Meanwhile, Enzo watched the news report and exclaimed “I love watching the fire burn on TV!”

By dinner time it was clear that the fire was moving away from us and we settled in to have a movie night. Well, most of us did.  Zizza fretted clean through the evening.  She worried so much her tummy ached and she passed up ice cream with hot fudge sauce. She worried so much that after she was tucked in my bed sans Lizzy  she asserted that she didn’t expect to need an elephant to help her sleep tonight.  

What she really meant was, she’d rather sleep without her beloved than wait alone while I nipped up the stairs to fetch it.  The worry had her so exhausted that by the time my teeth were brushed she was sound asleep even Lizzy-less as she was.  It might be the first time that’s happened since my Ziz was a mere 9 months old.   

Hopefully her worry will dissipate in the course of the night.  She certainly seems well enough at ease now.  Her breathing is deep and rhythmic beside me in the bed as I sit here typing.  Now, I suppose I’ve got to try to sleep.  I never could get restful sleep with this baby in my bed. Girlfriend is a thrasher.  Still, I’d rather have her thrash securely beside me than carry her worry through the night in her own bed.

If you’re sleeping tonight without being pummeled by small feet and elbows I hope you’ll take a minute to appreciate the luxury.  Good night.


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