Friday, April 26, 2019

Spring brings hope

Spring renews and refreshes. Sometimes, it can even put things right, or at least take steps in that direction. Here, in northern California, in the very shadow of the Camp Fire that destroyed Paradise and other Sierra foothill communities, we need the refreshing and renewal that come this time of year. I am grateful for spring.

Last November, things weren't looking so good. Our home, and our sons' homes in a neighboring community, were under threat of evacuation as the fire swept down the canyons from Paradise, already in ashes, to menace the flatlands in the valley below. We were living in smoke so thick, the street lamps stayed on all day and people drove with their lights on. No one went out without heavy hazard masks, and much, much worse was happening all around us.

Friends, people we knew well, others we knew as acquaintances, and neighbors we did not know at all were suffering. Many were burned out of their homes and had nothing left. Some lost businesses, personal keepsakes, pets. A few among those we did not know lost relatives. Here in the valley, we did what we could to find emergency housing, supply clothing, blankets, food and help, and to offer our sympathy and support. Meanwhile, our rural county, and many others nearby, struggled to absorb an estimated 50,000 displaced people.

Almost six months have passed and things are settling down. Fortunately, that means traffic isn't as crazy, housing isn't quite as tight, and businesses that doubled their traffic overnight have adjusted procedures to accommodate. The unfortunate side is more loss: friends moving to other states, others staying in the general area, but moving far enough that we won't see them often in the future, and saying a permanent goodbye to much of the uphill community that we knew and loved. We are grateful to see them regrouping and rebuilding, but sorry to see them go.

Then there's spring: renewal, refreshment, hope. We've watched the blossoms in the fruit and nut orchards. Now we have roses. Roses, roses are everywhere! And the beautiful roses blooming in my front yard are one more assurance that even catastrophes can pass, horror can be replaced by grace, sorrow can be followed by joy.

Susan Aylworth is the author of 17 published novels with an 18th due next month. Her latest is PARIS IN THE SPRINGTIME, a novel set in the Sierra foothills near her northern California home. She lives with her husband of 49 years, Roger, and one old, arthritic cat. She loves to hear from readers. Find her at, @SusanAylworth,, or Also on Pinterest and Instagram.


  1. Prayers continue for the many people affected by this disaster. Thank you for sharing your personal story, Susan.

  2. Susan, thanks for sharing that story and the renewed hope after a disaster.

  3. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story, Susan. And sending prayers to all who were affected.

  4. What a beautiful message. I've experienced the threat of losing everything in a fire when one of several wildfires burned in the hills above me and the Santa Ana winds caused it to spread. It carried the embers to all the houses below and there weren't enough firefighters. It's amazing how catastrophes do pass.

  5. I love spring. I think of renewal with spring. So sorry about the fires.