As we drove into town, the kids pointed out everything that had changed - the smoke rising from the hills, the lack of cars, all the shops that were closed down. We watched as a helicopter dipped into one of our favorite lakes, sucking up water to take to the fire. All of it was fascinating, exciting, and just slightly sad. We focused on the excitement, and drove straight home, past firetrucks and police cars at every corner.
We arrived home in the evening, just in time to make some PB&J for dinner. The grass was meadow-high, the sun was setting, and neighbors all around us were returning home to their ribboned front gates. Tyler took a break from his patrolling for a few minutes to give us all bear hugs and kisses, and then was off again. We were so happy to see him. To be home. Everything felt new again.
Despite the smoke, we stayed outside until the sun set, romping, wrestling, and catching up with neighbor's evacuation adventures. Then we came inside, said our grateful prayers, and climbed into bed, fighting off the exhaustion of a long month, soaking in the feeling of being in our own home, in our own beds, with all of our own family.