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Safe Living in Sonoma Valley

The Color Yellow

By Julie Atwood

Greetings, and Happy Pet Prep Month!

June is also the start of summer, when our attention often turns to fun and frivolity. We’re not really in the mood for disaster prep. But here’s the thing: We need to accept prep as part of our daily lives, so we don’t have to stop having fun and spend long hours on readiness.

I have a friend who’s a CAL FIRE battalion chief and yoga master. He lives in the wildlandurban interface (WUI) in a small Northern California town. He loves animals and has a lot of them. Last summer he said something that really stuck with me: “We need to learn how to be in a constant state of yellow.”

Now, since I was a kid, yellow has always been my favorite color. I’ve had yellow kitchens and yellow bedrooms. When I was a nerdy teen, “Mellow Yellow” meant lemon cream pie and lemonade slushees slurped on horseback. Daffodils are my favorite flowers. Yellow makes me happy.

But yellow has slipped on our spectrum. We have begun to adopt a cycle of ramped-up “high alertness” alternating with periods of blissful ease. We bounce between the red danger zone and the green peace time zone.

It’s time to step into a permanent state of yellow, where prepping doesn’t require so much frantic activity, because we’re mostly ready, all the time, for most things. Animals live this way. They are constantly aware of their environment and the energy of the humans in it. Thinking like our pets, equines, and farm animals can help us keep them safer when things move into “red.”

To kick off summer, we propose that we all try making a commitment to move into the “yellow zone.”Doing things that develop mind-muscle memory and help us work more effectively with our animals can actually be calming. And calm is where we need to be when it comes time to get our animals and ourselves to do something fast, in a stressful, dynamic situation.

Our “salute to yellow” — and steady readiness — is our very old-school “Yellow Pages” of animal emergency/disaster resources, as well as tips to help you set up or refresh your action plan and make prep part of your daily routine.

We hope our Animal Prep Yellow Pages will make you smile and inspire you to find ways to make your own yellow safety place.