Sunday, May 27, 2012

the waiting game

The seasonals have come back to work. Now there are ten of us. But fire season is getting off to a slow start. There are a few incidents elsewhere, but there are plenty of resources closer than we are. One of my crewmembers escapes to a fire in Colorado, but it is soon handled, and he returns glumly to our daily rain showers. It snows in the mountains. Another crewmember impresses the hotshots during their physical training day and is invited to go with them on an assignment to New Mexico. The rest of us wait.

There is plenty for a fire crew without fires to do. We line up thinning projects, trail clearing, and fireline construction around burn units. We burn piles with propane torches. The seasonals suffer through mind-numbing mandatory training and possibly more interesting fire classes. As usual, everyone's computer profile has been erased, necessitating numerous phone calls and paperwork. I plan helicopter training with the park. Anyone who calls about the possibility of a project is overwhelmed by our enthusiasm. Spontaneous barbecues are known to occur.

Still, we all know why we are really here. We hope for a summer of fire, one we will look back and remember for years. So while it rains and we keep ourselves busy, we keep our bags packed and our boots ready. Because you never really know. It could be tomorrow.

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