Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Scenes from the Basin fire

As the afternoon work circle formed on Saturday we noticed that the sky was ominously grey and active. A few minutes later some were soaking happily in the short spell of rain while a few wondered about the lightning.

That afternoon I could see smoke on the drive out and a more active fire was reported over by the coast closing Highway 1. Two days later, after a couple of spectacularly smoky afternoons, the Monterey Sherriff posted a mandatory evacuation notice and the guests left, bringing the summer season to a juddering halt.

Most of the students stayed to clear the grounds of flammable fuel and cut fire lines. Zazen became optional. As we drove back to Jamesburg last night the sky over the fires and south from there was full of smoke, the valleys too. We wondered how long the others would be allowed to stay.

So we weren't surprised this morning when Keith told us that the Forest Service had asked everyone to leave. Fortunately, as there has only been the one fire crew and engine at Tassajara they then relented partially to allow a few people with deep experience of Tassajara's infrastructure to remain.

A couple of hours later the convoy rolled into Jamesburg for a few chaotic hours punctuated by circles, lists and a fascinating array of hastily grabbed food. Everyone has now left for friends or family, neighbours and the other practice centres. At the meetings many people asked the same question in a variety of ways; What happens now?

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