A moment when time slowed down.

Not the good kind, either.

After a longish and tiring day in town, the kids and I found ourselves driving back out to the mountain in silence. That is to say, the kids were worn out such that they actually fell asleep (this–like–never happens in the car), and I enjoyed the quiet and peace thoroughly.

Then we crested the last hill before the final approach to the mountain (still a couple miles out), and the first thing I saw was a huge flaming orange glow. My heart just about pounded out my boots it fell so fast, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the flickering. The fact that it was at the base of the mountain directly underneath our point made me even more nervous, because a fire this time of year, starting there, would likely take everything–everything–out. For miles.

Random (but related) things ran through my mind, things like this is the 5th driest summer on record and all the brush and grass are primed to flame. Could I beat it to the house? Should I even try? Did the Dearliest get all the fire lines made that he’d wanted to? How quickly would fire move up the mountain? It hadn’t moved much in the last couple minutes. In fact, it hadn’t moved at all.

So I squinted and drove and stole glances at the glow. In a few minutes my angle to it changed, and I realized that it wasn’t a fire at all, but the setting sun reflecting on a large metal barn roof.

I started breathing a little easier, but it was a little while before my system calmed down and the adrenaline left the body.

I pray to God I don’t have to experience a wildfire, but at least now I know more or less what my initial reaction will be, which in a way I find good and helpful knowing in advance.

Still. I hope it’s a long long time before I see a glow like that again!

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