From Fire to Snow

Since landing in our new home near Northfield MN (see “Driving Miss Bella” for our journey out) at the end of September we’ve been busy unpacking, arranging furniture, hanging artwork and getting to know our new area of the country. It’s starting to really feel like “home” here, but back in our former home of Butte County, in Northern California, the news is grim. The “Camp Fire” has ravaged the area, consumed the beautiful town of Paradise, and put many people and animals out of their homes. It’s heartbreaking to see it on the news, read about it, and follow it on social media. As of this writing the huge fire is 35% contained, Oroville is still safe, but everyone has a “go bag” packed and must be sleeping with one eye open. I remember that feeling from our experience with the “Wall Fire” last year. The shear number of displaced people is astounding, and how housing will be found for them all — in a state sadly lacking in affordable housing — is a daunting problem. Meanwhile fires also rage in Southern California, and firefighters from many other areas of the country have gone in to help. My poor home state is really taking a beating, and whereas I’m glad to be out of the smoke, I feel a certain helplessness that comes from not being able to help more directly.

We have donated to this fund:  if you can, please send a little to help.  Butte County is not a wealthy area, and many of the people who lost everything do not have the means to rent at higher prices, buy new clothing, and staple items. For those who owned homes, it is a long slow process to rebuild, or find another spot to settle in. My heart goes out to them all.

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On a lighter note, we have been exploring! Several weeks ago we drove to nearby Nerstrand Big Woods State Park at the recommendation of a friend who once lived near here. What a beautiful place! I’d love to get back there in the spring to do some plein air painting. Below are a few photos from our day.

We also made our way over to Red Wing Minnesota, and had fun exploring the Red Wing Pottery Museum, and the Memorial Park which had great vistas of the city of Red Wing and Mississippi River which borders the town on the north east side. (photos below)

And then of course we experienced our first light snow at the new house. It’s still magical to me — although as the winter drags on I’m sure that may change! Miss Bella was quite perplexed by the falling flakes!