November 21, 2018, Congress, AZ-
I’m enjoying dinner here, at Nichols West, a small but elegant restaurant, on the north side of this tiny ranching and mining town, itself at the western edge of Yavapai County. The place is the love-work of an English-South African-New Zealander couple, and has not once left me wanting for a fine meal.
I came here, after setting myself the challenge of re-training my knees to work together, whilst paying respects for a second time, to the nineteen men who perished in the Yarnell Hill fire, on June 30, 2013.
I know members of four of the families of those who gave their lives that day. Their collective sacrifice is typical of those families who give us their finest members, each and every day, never knowing whether their child, spouse or parent is going to return home, safe and sound.
This sacrifice has been written large, in the 9/11 attacks, in the mass killings of military and first responders of less celebrated, but equally compelling, disasters, and in the wildland fires, and other natural disasters, that continue to ravage locations across the country and across the planet.
So, I walked to the circle of gabions, in a quiet valley below the boulder-racked ridges of Yarnell Hill, the southern tip of the Santa Maria Range. There were several others, enjoying the bright blue sky and rugged trail, whilst paying their own homage to the brave. It is always worth the trek.
I took my time, and was nearly the last one out of the park, with fifteen minutes to spare. The day began with me befriending a frightened woman, who is caretaker to the love of her life (Yes, we also serve, who sit and wait), and listening/counseling her to keep on loving and cherishing the man who has been everything to her for decades. It is now ending, with my knees no worse for the wear and a restorative meal, having honoured those fallen men, whose memory is indelible.