Thursday, July 10, 2008

So what now?

Yet again that question with no answer comes calling...

Let's start by making the assumption that the Tassajara crew make it through the night safely and that there are no fires started by embers rolling down the hills.

The fire burned a large area today making a sweeping run from the Church Creek drainage up and over the road to Rocky Creek. Burning rapidly up and over Black Butte. Almost all of Tassajara Road from the dozer lines to Tassajara has been burned. Tassajara itself is surrounded by black.

The road is still surrounded in parts by fire and where the fire has passed by, there are large rocks and fallen trees blocking the way. We were told this evening that it will be at least a couple of days before the road is safe enough to send a dozer down the road to clear this debris.

So one answer is that it will be several days before anyone is physically able to drive down to Tassajara.

To get up to the dozer lines we have to get past the CHP roadblock at the edge of the forest, so what about the multiplying layers of legal and administrative closures that have to be lifted before we can freely use the road.

Well, here the story is more uncertain. The closures and evacuations will not be lifted until the fire is much less active and dangerous than it is this evening. We here at Jamesburg are behind a set of firelines that may be severely tested in the next couple of days if the forecast wind shift pushes the fire in this direction. This fire is still dangerous.


Greenman said...

Peace! I must admit that I am an outsider looking in, one who is very new to Buddhism. I read all of the "Sitting With Fire" blogs in one sitting tonight.
I find the love and concern for both Tassajara, the Monks and firefighters a beautiful thing. I was taught by my very wise mother to hold onto humor, that humor heals the heart and smooths the road...I'll never look at Smokey the Bear the same way again.
But I am disturbed by what seems to me to be a lack of trust. If you can trust the Abbot and Monks to care for you spiritually how can you not trust them to care for each other's safety. In the stress and chaos it seemed some were very critical of the five who stayed and others of those who left. My own heart says "I honor you all." I honor your bravery and prudence and above all I will not sit here in judgement. Each has done what they thought best... some called Senators' offices, others chanted, some followed important political actions the fires pushed aside and some stayed to fight the fire. Each did the best they could. My mother also used to tell me "Everyone who does the best they can is a hero."
I honor you all as heroes. I am honored to share this world with you. Thank you for your shining example

Tony said...

As a practical matter, if you need to get folks back up to (or out of) Tassajara sooner than later, Verticare Helicopters out of the Salinas Airport might be an option. They know the backcountry well.

I believe their smallest helicopter goes for approximately $300/hour.

Chris vLS said...

So much to be grateful for.

Tomorrow morning, will call all the political offices with thanks for all the support for the fire teams.

Also, perhaps at some point we could find addresses to thank the inmate team.

With a deep bow.

Anonymous said...

While our gratitude knows no bounds for the narrow escape and deliverance of Tassajara, let us not forget that the fire rages on all all fronts and is moving north towards Carmel Valley, Cachaugua, Jamesburg and the many people and many other beings who may be affected. The latest Geomac map shows active burning on N, E. and S sides of the fire. Not to mention all the fires burning thoughout the state. A friend here at SCZC has a daughter who lives in Paradise CA with her two small children where things are still rather dicey with that fire.

Please keep chanting for all...may all beings be happy and live in safety.

I'm thinking of you all at Jamesburg and Tassajara and sending you love while envisioning a protective bubble surrounding you, which is what I have been doing since this began.

pappa said...

Beautifully put "greenman, my son was amongst the active group at Tassajara. I was glad to hear he is safe, and Kathryn, I too have dear friends and relatives in the Richvale, Cico, Paradise and Red Bluff area.
TO ALL OF YOU BRAVE souls who have pitched in, ALL you Zen people, ALL you firemen, ALL you "unseen heroes", Siting with fire, or wherever you have helped and still are helping. THANK YOU thank you,THANK YOU for making it possible for a Father (to Johan) to be able to "read(see) between the lines" what has been going on.
For certain, there are angels, and you all are omongst them.
from Peter in Sweden

Mom Of 4. said...

I live in Carmel Valley, and as scary as these fires are, I pray for the fire fighters.. I know where my kids are, and that they are safe, but these men and women are battling for YOUR land and YOUR loved ones, Please, everyone, THANK YOUR FIRE FIGHTERS!!!

ac said...

maddening that the Inciweb site hasn't been loading (not for me, at least) in the last 24-48 hours with the new aerial maps, and those same links were removed from the much better working Los Padres NF site a few days ago. if anyone's found a better source, please post? (i have a helluva time trying to scry the Google map fire lines.) from what i'm reading tonight, sounds like fire could be a real threat to jamesburg yet. jamesburgians, please let us know how you are doing! nine bows to clan james/meyerhoff, and i wish the best for all the residents & their homes in the hills surrounding jamesburg, and for those everywhere still threatened by flames. just found this from the monterey herald yesterday: sounds like the north & eastern sections of the fire got turbo-charged as of yesterday.

Ellen said...

Writing this to you from Sydney, Australia, I am sending my deepest thanks to you for this blog and all the ways the community has managed to keep us all abreast of the situation, even in the midst of such danger.

My time at Tassajara in 2001 was deeply impactful and the place has remained my spiritual home, one I hold dear within. So it has been difficult to consider it may be razed by fire and to feel so helpless and far away.

How wonderful it is to hear that, at this stage, it would seem the monastery has been saved. I would like to thank all you good people involved in the dance with this fire, for your dedication and efforts and the responsible ways in which you have dealt with it. Id also like to thank everyone that has shared their feelings on this blog and elsewhere - I have been very touched by all I have read and embraced by such a large community of people passionate about this magical place.

Bushfires are common in Australia, so I feel I have some empathy for what it means to face the flames. I am humbled by you all and send my... cooolest wishes to you!


Ko Blix said...

Someone said the fire has really woken up their practice or something to that effect, and i find that the fire wakes up how deeply tied i am to tassajara and the ventana. i'm driving down to spend the day to see what i can see and do what i can do at jamesburg, carmel valley, big sur...last week i posted 'Shadows upon Tassajara" and also a conversation with "Grandpa" Fred Nason, 85 yr old Esselen, at Ventana Wilderness Expeditions on Tassajara Road. ( then search brianoblix, in Videos). Soon i'll post more. Tally-ho, off i go. Ko

Anonymous said...

I'm heading off to class but just wanted to check in...and just want to echo the sentiment...yes deep bows and GREAT gratitude to ALL the firefighters whose job is far from over...may you soon be able to have that much needed rest.

thinking of you all at J'burg...stay safe...

Anonymous said...

Good morning Greenman, and Peter from Sweden, and Ellen from Australia, and many others, from a much relieved parent (of Graham) in Ontario, Canada. I marvel at the global reach of the Tassajara community as it has been expressed these past few days "Sitting With Fire". Many thanks.

Tony said...

To ac:

I'm not very technical, but you might find what you're looking for or someone who can help on one of these two sites:


Karin &Joan said...

Thank you Greenman for your balanced view of the situation and your emphasis on trust. We are feeling some urgency for getting more people into Tassajara to support the 5 already there. We like Tony's idea of using helicopters.
If money is the obstacle to this option, we will take responsibility for fundraising to cover costs. So please go for it if it seems wise.

Pennie aka: pendoodles said...

I am so thankful no lives were lost.

To quote Kathryn... 'let us not forget that the fire rages on all all fronts and is moving north towards Carmel Valley, Cachaugua, Jamesburg and the many people and many other beings who may be affected.'

Indeed lets make sure these other people and homes will be safe as well.


Sheyne Murray said...

Congratulations on a brilliant job defending Tassajara! I'm glad all are safe.


Jane said...

I too want to say how much I hope this fire does not reach Jamesburg, and all those who live this side of the main dozer line. You know if you need help there, just ask, and it will pour in--but may it not be needed.

Deep gratitude to all firefighters still working. I see the coverage on tv of Paradise, Spokane, the Basin Complex, and each time I see one of those signs put up on a sheet on a fence, "Thank you firefighters!" my eyes fill with tears.

I will be less in this conversation for a while, as I have to get on an airplane in a few hours, but Joan and Karin, count me in on the helicopter fund if that happens. My memory is that layperson choppers may not want to fly over and into a fire zone. But the helipad on the Hogback is still there, and the areas outside the gate and (if they aren't burning) the flats are also viable landing sites. Google Earth would let them see the terrain and evaluate to some degree.

My memory is that once the road actually burned, it wasn't too long before it became drivable again. You travel between burning trees, but you are safe. This of course depends on the clearing getting done that Kathryn and Chris spoke about needing to happen. (Thanks for answering that question so promptly.)

may all beings be safe, and huge gratitude to all,


emanon said...

i have been checking this blog several times a day since its inception. the community, the chant and the fire are with me ---i feel so blessed to be part of this sangha.

count me in for helicopter support

Renee said...

My deepest gratitude to all who are working to save Tassajara... I wish for safety for those still on the frontlines of the fire. Thank you Jamesburg (Keith,Leslie, and many others I don't know) for your steady presence, and for all those who have been "love in action" in their efforts these past three weeks.

Many transitions ahead..those of us reading this blog can only imagine what it must be like to see Tassajara as an oasis of green in a burnt black landscape.

I hope that people can be helicoptered in to support the five who went back to protect Tassajara so they can sleep.

Deep bow of gratitude to all,


Sherry said...

Much gratitude and many blessings to all. I have been watching for days and calling politicals from Minnesota. You are all in my thoughts.

ac said...

thanks for the links, Tony. the webmaster over on was kind enough to fix the map problem, so here's the most recent link to an overview of the fire's boundaries (forest service generally updates these once every day or two); easier to decipher, i find, than on the google maps. it must've been from early yesterday as it doesn't show the progress through tassajara, but does show the shocking recent jumps of the fire boundary further northeast, pushing up to tassajara road, china camp, and pine ridge (you can click once on the map to magnify)

Anonymous said...

the offers to pay for helicopter help are incredibly generous, but according to Leslie at Jamesburg the professional helicopter services have refused to land at Tassajara for some years. the closest place to land is up on the ridge, and that's not possible at this point, either, if you look at the fire maps.