July 3, 2008 Fire season begins with smoke in the air, smudging the crystal clear blue with a gritty yellow and gray glaze. The locals tell us that the fire is on the reservation and it started with a lightning strike last night. We travel on the back roads through rolling wheat fields. We stop to water our dog at an old but still active Grange Hall in the minute town of Farmer, Washington. We notice the smoke on the horizon and we follow it steadily for miles. In the lower picture you can see a small cluster of erratics; stones that dropped out of glaciers long ago.
We arrive back in time in the tiny town of Bridgeport to visit the uncles and the aunts and the cousins and the second cousins. We hear news of the impending death of one of us. Todo Brown married my father’s brother Russ. He died tragically young in a logging accident years ago. But his wife Todo remained with us, unmarried and very much part of the family. I saw her at Cherie’s wedding lat summer, looking very thin, very gaunt. I wondered. And now I hear news that she may not make it the summer. Lung cancer, brain cancer. It was the cigarettes I suppose. But she has always been here with us. How can people just die?
Our family is growing faster than it is shrinking. But for me- the core family of my life is shrinking, almost one a year lately. We get our turn on this planet. What a crazy twist in our lives that we still cannot predict our given time. Even the best science and technology is not able to help us out with that the biggest mystery of them all.