April Clark: Signs from the universe
April E. Clark
Dirt can catch on fire. It’s not something I’ve ever given thought to, until now.
No need to relive that life lesson.
The other night I had gone to a friend’s house for dinner. There was no one home at my place so I didn’t see the whole thing start. But I know how it ended.
Luckily a melted plastic flower box was the only real casualty.
It was a rainy night, but my neighbors Luke and Andrea said they hadn’t spotted any lightning that evening. The raindrops were coming down pretty steady, which is always a relief here where the rivers need the love. Luke and Andrea were about to go to bed when they noticed fiery plastic pieces and flames coming down through the cracks of my deck on to their patio directly below it. I had left there about three hours prior to run errands and have dinner and I definitely did not see or smell smoke.
We are still panicked by the “what ifs.”
What if they hadn’t seen out the window at that second? What if they had gone to bed? What if it would’ve taken only a few more minutes for the flames to really spread?
Too many what ifs to comprehend, really.
Luke and Andrea immediately ran up the stairs and saw the flower box on fire. Luke acted fast and doused the flames with a new fire extinguisher they had just purchased. Every household should have one.
That may be the most serious thing I’ve ever said.
The small fire was out fast after spraying it, but my amazing neighbors continued to bring water up to the deck, repeating the process as Andrea frantically tried to reach me. For whatever reason, my phone was not attached to my hand like it usually is.
Well of course it wasn’t.
I came home to the shock of it all. This happened in a matter of minutes and quick reflexes made all the difference. The scariest part of the whole ordeal was the fiery flower box was near the grill on my deck, with a gas tank attached. That’s another what if that immediately makes me panic.
Luke immediately considered that.
He was able to get the flower box off the deck and downstairs away from the gas. I shudder to think about the impact of a fire because we live in a complex with other tenants and the neighbor’s houses are close. But I also know we have amazing fire professionals in the valley who act quickly. We all might need a little refresher on fire safety.
I mostly remember stop, drop, and roll.
The incident was small, but scary. We still don’t know what happened since no one was home during the start of it. The flower box was filled with potting soil from last year’s basil and oregano planting. Not sure if that could do it. The Colorado Springs Fire Dept. has a web page on potting soil fires and safety that someone posted on my Facebook page. In case anyone was wondering, there was no manure involved.
My green thumb isn’t that serious.
The most perplexing part of the story was no one was here. Sometimes smokers put out a cigarette in potting soil and that will cause a fire but that wasn’t the case. I thought maybe there was lightning, but that wasn’t the case, either.
I continue to be weirded out.
That’s because really weird things have been happening to me lately — at least it feels that way. That could be all in my head, since I’ve had a rough month. But I am feeling a bit more spiritual about it. When the fire must have been smoldering, I had joked with a friend of mine earlier at dinner that I needed a sign from the universe to guide me in the right direction.
I like to think the universe will do that if I ask nicely.
I’m not sure if this is a sign, sheer coincidence, or lack of gardening knowledge, but it’s just plain weird. Maybe this is the universe telling me I need to promote fire safety as we head into a dry season. Maybe this is a nudge to get people to buy fire extinguishers. Maybe my late grandfather, a lifelong firefighter, arson detective, captain, and chief, is trying to tell me something. All I do know is safety is first, especially in the mountains in the summertime.
And that I have great neighbors.
— April E. Clark is looking through her grandpa’s old arson detective notebook and wishing she would have followed in his footsteps. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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