Out of the frying pan and into the fire

Wildfires just south of us

Isn’t it remarkable what a little bit of perspective can do for you?

Over the past few months I’ve been preoccupied with my own personal upheavals–first the flood and its aftermath, later the complete overhaul of our physical environment and dispersal of most of our stuff, followed by the long trek west.* The various stages of the process have each involved discomfort, sometimes physical, sometimes mental.

While I’m surrounded by chaos in my current unpacking stage, the end is in sight. Having a little bit of leisure let me look up and see what’s happening in the rest of the world.

The community we so recently left is not far away from Lawrence, Massachusetts, one of the cities where thousands have been evacuated after dozens of homes exploded due to natural gas fires. That’s the sort of thing you just don’t imagine happening when you’re considering what to worry about.

We’re now living in a city in the foothills of the Wasatch mountains, but it’s been difficult to see the actual mountains for the past few days, given the smoke from wildfires to the south. At first I just wondered if someone had burned a lot of toast upstairs, but the smell didn’t go away. The lead element of the NPR radio weather update concerned not temperature or precipitation but smoke, followed by air quality, or lack thereof. We’re being told not to use the evaporative coolers that so many homes have in this area, to limit the outside air being brought inside. My sister’s in-laws who live 30 minutes south have been evacuated from their home, along with thousands of others.

Normally blue sky now white with smoke; that dim outline of a mountain was much harder to see even a day earlier.


Meanwhile, I’ve had my eye on Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines, where my niece is serving her LDS mission. We were relieved that her area was not in the direct path, while at the same time aware of the millions of people who’ve been affected.

And then there is the estimate that Hurricane Florence may drop 18 trillion gallons of water over the course of seven days.

If you had asked me how my own little troubles compare to the really serious challenges that others face, of course I would have admitted that mine are insignificant. This rapid succession of large disasters just drives that fact home. My problems? What problems?



*Though of course our trek west is a pleasant afternoon stroll when compared with the traveling conditions of the pioneers who first arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. I absolutely get that. It only seems burdensome when compared with what a person who wasn’t driving across the country might do over a period of six days.

[Images: WBZ-TV, Utah Fire Info, yours truly, my niece’s companion]

2 thoughts on “Out of the frying pan and into the fire

  1. Glad you arrived safely, Lori and Jon. Those wildfires are very scary. When we were in Alaska a few years ago, the air was full of smoke from fires in the mountains–could hardly see anything. I didn’t realize then, but it is recommended now to wear a mask when going outdoors. Stay safe!

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