Another year in the books
We made it safely to 2013. Some of you had your doubts, though.
Reminiscing can be regretful or grateful as we look back on what might have been. But, as humans we can choose to look at the negative and wish we had done better, or rejoice in the things we’ve done well, or at the very least, done reasonably.
I barely remember the negative times as I look backward, for positive memories keep crowding them out. Last January, Sharon was barely five months out of major back surgery. Her recovery was progressing nicely, not as quickly as she’d have liked, but much better than it could have been. As 2012 began she was still taking serious pain meds. In the next months, not only was she able to gradually eliminate them, but in June had recovered sufficiently to return to work, only 10 months out of surgery.
During the month of February I parted company with a part-time job. Within days, my notary work picked up and remained busy until mid-summer. Even then, it remained decent.
For the third year I contracted with both CalFire and U.S. Forest Service with my pickup to provide a runner service when called to a large fire. During the late summer I kept a watchful eye on the big fires in Northern California. I didn’t expect to be called to anything north of Fresno County or maybe Los Angeles, or possibly the Central Coast.
In late August, I was shocked but very excited to get a dispatch call from the USFS Office in Williams, north and west of Sacramento. Having been ready for this call for months, within two hours I had loaded my “go-bags” into the truck, shaved, showered, and was dressed in my Nomex gear. Before 4 p.m. I drove down the drive, on my way to the North Pass Fire in the Mendocino National Forest.
At 1:20 a.m. the next morning I found a place to park near the Ground Support tent, unrolled my pad and sleeping bag in the bed of the truck, and was home. Fire Camp was near the small town of Covelo, about 45 miles northeast of Willits. The next morning I checked in, had the truck inspected and went to work. For the next 18 days I was attached to this fire, running to North Lake to ferry parts or people in and out of the Fire Camp, or to Ukiah for parts.
Because my truck is two-wheel-drive, I wasn’t sent out on the bulldozer roads, for they required a four-wheel-drive vehicle. The North Pass Fire was along the Middle Fork of the Eel River, a popular area for campers. Because there are several very good dirt roads along which I could travel, I still got to drive “out on the line” for various tasks.
All the time I was away on fire duty, Sharon had to take care of horses and dogs, and keep a watchful eye on the cattle, in addition to her job. But she did a magnificent job which allowed me to be gone. In November, I presented myself for public election, and though I was ahead for 25 days, I was eventually defeated. One never goes into this with the idea of losing, but you also know it is always a possibility. Except for the moment I realized I had lost, it all remains a positive experience.
I would be remiss if I didn’t remember the great times spent with family. Being in the audience to watch twin granddaughters perform delightfully as the Wicked Witch of the West and Mrs. Gulch in “The Wizard of Oz,” was a great memory. When the Wicked Witch got a spontaneous hand of applause as she exited with the screeching cackle, “I’ll get you my pretty,” there was a tear in Grampy’s eye.
Recently, I had the experience of being Santa for the Bakersfield Homeless Center on Christmas morning. Sharon and I were up at 3 a.m., on our way by 4, and at 6 I went through the housing hallways waking the residents. With the assistance of both staff and volunteers, we handed out gifts to both children and adults, giving the homeless a small semblance of normalcy.
One of the twins (Mrs. Gulch) woke early and decided she wanted to go along. She had never seen Grampy as Santa, nor participated in the Christmas morning event. She became my elf for the morning, replacing her Grammy who gladly traded in her Santa hat.
Many times during the past year, you, the readers of Daunt to Dillonwood, have stopped me in a restaurant or at the store. I thank you for your kindness, with the hope 2013 will bring you more pleasurable reading. A recognition of the part Sharon plays in this column is absolutely imperative. She often gives me ideas, and sometimes I even adhere to her critique. But, I have to admit that isn’t always easy. I hate it when she’s right.
Funerals are never fun, but there is something special about celebrating a life well-lived. With friends and family packed into the church, the community of Springville bid farewell to Clinton Osborn with stories, slides and wonderful memories. Though we will all miss him, every person present left with a sadness for the loss, but a joy for having known a fine, upstanding gentleman of unique character.
The year of 2012 is done, 2013 lies on the horizon. There will be both sadness and happiness. There will be both good and bad memories. In short, life will go on exactly as it has in every year past. We make exactly what we choose of the experience.
I think — no, I know — I’m going to have a wonderful year. Join me for a beautiful 2013.
Brent Gill lives in Springville. His “Daunt to Dillonwood” column appears regularly in The Porterville Recorder. If you enjoyed this column, follow my blog at: http://foothillwriter.blogspot.com.