#3. “We’re keeping this field.” Ray Kinsella, Field of Dreams
Let’s be honest.
There have been a few times over the past 7 years or so that Mr. TBG and I have considered moving. Mainly, the consideration was for our boys. We found ourselves asking more than once, “Is there enough opportunity for them here, in our little town, amongst the trees?”
You see, as they got older and graduated from Cobb Mountain Elementary, we suddenly discovered that we had conceived two rockers, and we embarked on the "glamorous" lifestyle of roadies driving and flying all over the place to support their music career (I say that with a smile…there was definitely no glamor, as could often be perceived…but they were some of the best times of our lives so far!). This morning when I looked at the odometer on my 2007 Toyota, I wasn’t surprised to see that it read 228,000+ miles. We've lived more in our car than we did in our treehouse on Evergreen Drive. I swear, our car could drive itself to 924 Gilman in Berkeley all by itself if it wanted to. So you might be able to understand why we were beginning to think that it would be better to live closer to the city, closer to the airport, and closer to the opportunities that our boys were seeking. Were they missing out because we had feathered our nest in little Lake County? We kinda thought so.
I mention this because NOW could be the perfect opportunity to leave, right? It could be our chance…and we ask ourselves, "Should we take it?" I know we aren’t the only ones thinking this way. This morning, as I sat at Mountain High Coffee eating breakfast before a work meeting, the chatter was all about the fire. I overheard things like-
“It looks like a bomb went off.”
“This is not the place it once was.”
“I get so depressed when I drive through here.”
“Not sure if I can stay here...I got some help from FEMA, but it’s not enough.”
“How will our businesses survive? How will our town make it?”
And here’s a startling fact I just read: Four out of ten business will close immediately following a disaster like ours. A little bit further down the road…when people really start to feel the stress and homeowners and renters opt to leave town…that number is likely to turn into six out of ten businesses.
Don’t get me wrong. Amongst all these statements I heard, folks were still bustling around….smiling at each other…hugging each other…and, as I have mentioned in my former posts…lifting each other up in unbelievable ways. But at this point in the game, there is an overriding sense of worry. It’s been six weeks. People are still living in campgrounds. Winter is on the way. Places of employment have burnt down. Surviving business owners are struggling. Fire survivors who were lucky enough to find a temporary place to land are realizing that they need to settle in somewhere else now…because life goes on and you have to go to work and school every day. It doesn’t matter if you’ve lost everything – life goes on and you have to make it work somehow. Life goes on, and it’s freakin’ harder than ever right now, my friends, for so many people.
So when I got a Facebook message from Mr. TBG’s former student, Clattie, last night, I smiled, laughed and cried all at the same time (yeah, I know, I do that a lot!). Clattie wrote: “I drive by your home every day and in the evenings I am in complete AWE as I think about that view you are going to have! Those sunsets... Oh my! Gorgeous!!!!!” Perfect timing, perfect message. The worry, the hurt, the overwhelming feeling is there for all of us, yes. And then one of us will come along at just the right moment and shine the spotlight on that little thing we call potential. Clattie, thank you.
For those of you who don’t now, I’m very fortunate to work at Mendo Lake Credit Union. Not only do I work with amazing people and for an amazing organization that does great things, but I often get a glimpse of what’s happening behind the scenes in our community because of the meetings I’m invited to attend. So, you see, I understand. I know why so many folks want to leave Lake County right now. If you lost your job, you might need to leave in order to survive. If you owned a local business, you might be wondering how the heck you are going to pull through this and come out okay on the other end...when the other end seems like a big pile of poo, to put it bluntly. Some folks lost both their homes and their businesses – how can they recover from a blow like that?
You know that water leak I mentioned last week, on my Facebook page? Well, in case you didn’t see the post, I’ve got a screen shot of it below. That’s my dad and CAG, working together to provide some relief. I was in awe as I watched them do that. And I want to tell you, there is an entire network of people in our community doing the same exact thing. Six weeks after the fire, and the effort continues. The meeting I was at this morning? It was a room full of folks who want to make sure that every single person and business affected by this fire have the resources they need to succeed. And I am attending another meeting just like it tomorrow. Pretty amazing. People are in this for the long haul; they are looking to fill the water bowl, even if it is drip by drip. As I sat in that meeting this morning, I thought to myself, I am so glad I live in Lake County. I am so glad I live on Cobb Mountain. I am so glad that I raised my kids here!
Ah…so my corn picture. How does it relate? Well, I stopped at a yard sale last week, looking for some useful odds and ends for the house we’ll be moving into soon (which, by the way, hosts a bat colony in the garage, another one by the back door, and has TEN sinks…(!)... more on that later…). Anyway, you know how I love old stuff? This sign caught my eye, along with the measuring tape and little pie-cutter doo-dad. They're going to look great in my new kitchen, all cheery and bright. I’ve never been to Iowa, but I’ll bet you know what I immediately thought of when I picked it up. Field of Dreams. There’s the famous quote we all know - "If you build it…”. That’s a good one, too. But the one I love is where Ray Kinsella says, “We’re keeping this field.” Because in that moment, there exists a determination that cannot be knocked down. It's the moment where we know that the field, the characters, the story...it's all going to become so much more.
I know that some folks may need to leave Lake County now to find work and get themselves established, and that’s okay. Some maybe just can’t bear to look at it right now, so they have to find better scenery. Some may need to sell their business, move on, find new jobs elsewhere, and get life back in order - and that’s okay. You gotta do what you gotta do. If you get to stay, I’m so excited that you’ll be here. And if you have to leave, I hope you can come back someday. Because, you see, Lake County is a corn field worth keeping.
And with that, my friends…I am going to turn over this blog to Jacob Andrew Gill (JAG). He posted something on his Facebook page about a week after the fire, and I think it sums up everything I’ve been trying to say here, but in a much better way. In fact, he should probably be the blog writer, not me. If you’ve already read his post, don’t feel obligated to do so again. Then again, you might want to. I know I’m his mom and everything, but I find it pretty amazing. Yep - he covers it from a young person’s perspective that has me in awe.
Lake County, my friends, is a corn field worth keeping.
I'll end with this image of JAG...this was our first trip home - or what was left of it - after the fire. As soon as we got to the house, he "picked" these garden flowers from the rubble, burnt as they were, and gave them to me.
Huge thanks, again, to our friend Amber (MUSE Photos, Kelseyville, CA) for capturing these moments. <3