By Joanna Bastian
A carved Sasquatch stands guard on the South Fork of Gold Creek. One eye is missing, giving him the flirtatious look of a wink.
I tried to interview him a few times. I asked him how long he had been standing there, if he had a girlfriend, and what hair products he uses, but he just stood there coyly, and said nothing. He is a creature of few words.
On my return from a run and when I feel like walking the last stretch home, I pass the Sasquatch and imagine him saying, “Hey girl, you got this, you can run a little further.” But his look is totally up to interpretation, because I can also imagine that wink and coy smile meaning, “You ran good. You deserve a root beer float.”
When giving directions to our home, I always include the Sasquatch as a reference point. He is there every evening to welcome us home. He has made the cover of my holiday cards, party invitations, and at one point was my Uncle Dave’s Facebook profile photo.
On July 17, I was supposed to catch the early train to Seattle and rendezvous with some friends for a long weekend. But as the fire came over the ridge and finger-sized bits of burning ash started to fall from the sky, I ditched my plans and grabbed the water hoses.
A few hours later, the wind erupted into a thunderous roar. The trees whipped into funnel-shaped thrashes of fury, sunlight turned a terrifying shade of orange, and it felt like the oxygen had been sucked from the air. The phone beeped. A text message from my neighbor, Lindsey Ashford. “You Out” was all it said. Their vehicles sped past my house and within seconds the dogs and I were right behind them.
I passed the Sasquatch on my way to Gold Creek Road and paused at the end of the bridge. I hoped he would be OK. He is, after all, made of wood. It was eerily quiet. The fire crew that had been at the bridge earlier was nowhere in sight. It felt wrong. I was afraid the fire had jumped the road and driving through flames was not on any list of fun things to do that day. Flipping a u-turn, I went back on South Fork Gold Creek, the Sasquatch giving me a wink goodbye. It felt like encouragement. I drove to McFarland Creek, and then turned back up Highway 153 to Gold Creek. I watched helplessly from the other side of the river as the firestorm engulfed Vinegar Ridge behind our homes.
Forty-eight hours later, we returned home. As we turned onto South Fork Gold Creek, the Sasquatch welcomed us with a coy smile. He was winking as if to say, “Hey girl, I’m still here.”
Days later my phone beeped a text message. It was an emergency weather alert for a flash flood. I laughed hysterically. Bring on the floodwaters and put out these raging fires. I would have preferred a reverse 911 for firestorms.