10 April 2011

World on Fire

I had a lot of time to think on my recent train trip. The thing about traveling that way is that it forces you to slow down and look at things from a different perspective. Sometimes, you are moving through areas where there are no roads or cars. At night, lying in bed with the horizon removed, you feel like you are floating in space as the constellations move around you just outside the window. It feels like you are inside the sound---the whistle, the click-clack, the squeals of the brakes---not sitting at a fixed point experiencing the doppler effect as the train passes by. Even with all of the modern conveniences available (wi-fi, wine tastings, cinema...), being on a train connects you with something distant.

I thought about how people used to always travel long distances on the train. Travel must have felt far more significant. There was no flying out to see grandma for a long weekend. I imagine that a "family vacation" was not a concept yet. The train was a way to change your life. Maybe it still is. In an age where we're all in such a hurry to get to the destination, it reminded me that it is important to remember and appreciate the journey that gets you there.

The area where I grew up is on fire.

from Alpine toward Ft. Davis by John Schwerdtfeger

Looking east of Alpine by John Schwerdtfeger

It is devastating and sad to read posts from friends who have lost homes...to think about all the places I knew well growing up...and to see people trying to drive cattle down the highway away from the fire. It's an old-fashioned sort of area. We're not fancy. It may not be much, but it was my journey.

Volunteer firefighters are doing their best to battle multiple fires, some as large as 2 miles wide, 20 miles long, covering 4 miles every 30 minutes. Much of the fighting must be done with dirt. Water is running low, and with the fire cutting through electrical poles, there is no power to pump what is left.


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4 comments:

Jenny said...

Your tweets and this post are the only reasons I'm aware of this. I don't know if I am just cut off from other streams of information on the weekends or if this is getting no play anywhere. I can't say how much I appreciate you making me aware of it.

The Science Goddess said...

I know you have a history with the area, too. It's very hard to see it like this.

Apparently, FEMA has made getting aid there the number 1 priority in the country---so while the fires might not be making national news, at least they will get some federal level attention.

Martha said...

Wow! I had heard "West Texas" had fires but now I have a place that I know. How very sad. It is amazing how stories that really are big get buried by the same few over repeated stories.

coach said...

Had the pleasure of driving thru west texas and visiting that weird, cool little town, Marfa, this time last year. didn't realize you were from the area--it's sad to see it burning.