Nature’s cycle is different
We recently went back to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park for the first time since it reopened at the beginning of February. The park, one of the jewels of Kenwood and Sonoma Valley, had been closed due to the fires that scorched 80 percent of its over 3,000 acres, including homes used by park staff.
Change was clearly evident as we walked up the trail to the top of Bald Mountain. The landscape and terrain were transformed – chaparral was gone, and trees of various sizes had either disappeared or were standing looking naked and embarrassed without their foliage. Not too many areas where critters could hide anymore, at least for the moment.
But you could tell life was coming back. Green has overtaken black on the hillsides, flowers are emerging, leaves are sprouting on fire-scarred trees and new shoots are coming up at the roots.
There is a beauty to nature’s rising from literal ashes. Nature is stubborn, and has the ability to fight back to normalcy after a disaster. “Knock me down and I’ll get back up” must be Mother Nature’s rallying cry.
Obviously, humans are much more complicated. We have a decision-making process that we need to go through when drastic change occurs. Nature can just, well, do things naturally.
For most of us, normal everyday change is an annoyance, like when they rearrange all the aisles at Safeway so you can’t find anything. Or when they stop baking those pretzels you like at Barking Dog in Boyes Hot Springs.
Looking over the human landscape in our Kenwood and Glen Ellen communities, the next stages of change are now upon those who have tragically lost their homes. These families and friends, however resilient (and they are), have very difficult decisions to make, with a ripple effect on all of us.
Some long-time residents are deciding not to rebuild, for a variety of reasons. Maybe it’s because their insurance coverage makes it financially impossible, or given a certain age group, the complexity of rebuilding is just too demanding and overwhelming to think about.
For some the experience has been so wrenching that the thought of returning to a beloved property brings back too many bad memories, and it’s better to take the opportunity to start anew somewhere else. We get it.
So we’ll have some new neighbors over time. Demographic shifts over the last ten years (fewer families with kids, very high housing prices) have already changed this area. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing and that we don’t still live in a close-knit community – it’s just different. Think of all the people you know who have moved into and out of the area even before the fire. It was sad to see people go then, but we also got many wonderful, contributing community members who moved in. The same thing will happen again, like new green leaves on an old tree.