Bob Spiwak Monkey MazamaBy Bob Spiwak

It has been a crazy week, the height of it beginning on Friday with the lightning, thunder and unbelievable winds. The coverage will be well documented elsewhere in the paper, and for this offering I will quote an email I got from a friend the following day. No names will be mentioned. My friend is a small 72-year-old woman. She wrote: “A friend who lives in Seattle called me this morning and asked that, if I could get to their place in Pine Forest, could I please remove for safekeeping a valuable painting they have in their cabin. Pine Forest was under Level Two evacuation. I have their house key so I drove up there this afternoon to retrieve and keep safe the painting. There were no barricades.

“As I walked out the front door with the painting, up the hill a man wielding a rifle yelled ‘stop – who are you?’ I told him my name and that I was retrieving a painting for my friend and I went back up to their cabin. When I returned to my car this man with his very large rifle was standing there and yelled ‘I will shoot you if you try to leave.’

“I again explained I was getting the painting for my friend in case the fire moved in. He waved the rifle and insisted I go with him to his house. He said that the National Guard had warned him of looters in the neighborhood. Me, I look about as intimidating as the Flying Nun, but he led me at gunpoint and herded me into a very dark bedroom (power was out) where he found the phone number of my friend and called to confirm that I had permission to take the painting. Then he explained that he was a former Green Beret and he had decided to stay on at Pine Forest to protect the neighborhood.

“It was a pretty bizarre experience, but then again, I guess this would be a good guy to have in the neighborhood after an evacuation.”

And that is indeed my friend, always able to look at the sunny side of life.

With helicopters flying about dousing fires, sitting on the deck below Grizzly Mountain it is sometimes hard to discern the sound of a chopper as opposed to a vehicle, especially trucks, loud cars and motorcycles as they approach the slick slopes of the mountain a quarter-mile from my chair.

It’s always entertaining (and gratifying) to see the whirly-birds dumping water on fires, such as the one that erupted on Virginia Ridge across the road. This was a Sunday preoccupation most of the day. We were armed with binoculars and a camera (whose batteries failed), sitting and baking in the car where I had the best vantage point of the fire.

I managed to get enough photos to send to friends and family, some of which elicited a “holy cow, that looks close” response. The wonders of a telephoto lens.