Burnt out

The decency of people seldom fails to amaze me.

Work this past week took me west, where a massive wildfire reduced Creek County to a giant ashtray.

Homes by the hundreds were destroyed. Shells of torched cars littered the black landscape, tires melted off the rims. Residents walked amid the ruins, dazed and unsure of what to do next.

One woman, in particular, stood out in the despair.

She and her husband, their home claimed by the blaze, had taken up refuge in a camper by a lake.

I identified myself, my company, and approached cautiously.

She welcomed me with a wave.

“Come on over and sit down.”

We spoke about her family’s ordeal. She offered me water and a seat on a soft afghan. She gave a a cloth to cushion my elbows on the rugged concrete surface of the picnic table.

“This is what I use,” the woman said.

I shut off my tape recorder and just listened. She deserved a sympathetic ear.

And much, much more.


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