Seeing the Forest for the Trees

It’s probably not a big surprise to anyone reading this column, to hear the air quality in Southern Oregon has been having a huge impact on our community. There have been outdoor adventures continually postponed or even canceled, family visits rescheduled and sports activities moved indoors. But even among the ash, it is possible to search our hearts and find a diamond among the “flames?”

I absolutely love living in Southern Oregon and perhaps the most during the summer months. Life seems to slow down, even if just a little bit, for more BBQ’s, family time and soaking in as much vitamin D as possible. The last few years have be tough here locally because of all the wildfires surrounding Jackson and Josephine County this time of year. But I find it interesting that the smoke has taught me just how much I take for granted living in this beautiful part of the United States.

This past month, I have missed seeing the mountains. As you can imagine I spend a fair amount of time in my car…driving all over Jackson County.  A lot of the time is spent on the phone, catching up with clients or putting deals together and the other moments are filled with mediating between my two children. I can’t tell you that I have always deliberately looked at the mountains or the sky or our breathtaking scenery on a daily basis. But I can tell you on the few recent days when the smoke has cleared out of our Valley, I have been reminded just how beautiful it is here. I have taken for granted how clean our air has smelled, how blue our sky is, the numerous lakes within a short driving distance and scores of hiking trails just outside my front door for me to enjoy and so much more.

Our hearts and immeasurable thanks go out to all the personnel continuing to fight fires all over the West coast. To the families who are willingly sacrificing time with their loved ones, as they serve our communities fighting fires, to the joint task-forces that are taking on more than they signed up for and working in different capacities to ensure the multi-agency efforts runs smoothly. We only have a very small glimpse of all your sacrifice, and as we complain about the smoke and the “ruined” plans, you leave your homes, your office and go towards the event that we are all trying run away from.

To those of us that are blessed enough to get away for small periods of time to go enjoy the blue sky outside of our area; what a gift… to be able to drop everything, your ability to afford the gas, an RV spot, a hotel room or a small getaway that some just simply aren’t able to enjoy.

May the smoke continue to clear away the entitlement, the everyday things we have taken for granted. Without the fires…some of us may not have realized how beautiful our surroundings are. And as someone who has lived in this area since I was nine years old, I would have to say I just might be, one of those “someones.”