You give thanks and take pictures anyway.
I scheduled a vacation trip out to visit friends in Northern California months ago, only to land there the morning after wildfires took over. Over the first few days we prepped for potential evacuation, buying food and water, packing the essentials, making evacuation plans for the worst. Thankfully, the worst didn't happen to us, but it did for thousands of homes and businesses. As the winds shifted around during the week, smoke came in and out of town. Ash fell like snow flurries.
We found opportunities to do needs assessments for shelters and to volunteer. It was amazing how quickly the community responded, donating clothing and supplies and volunteering their time. Hearing "I think we have enough volunteers here" or "We've gotten so many donations that we're only accepting a few particular items" reassured us that people are good. That we are capable of doing kind and compassionate things for each other, acting selflessly and with our whole hearts. Sometimes we need to be reminded of how kind we are to one another when it so often feels like the opposite. Most of the evacuees I spoke with recalled their stories of escape, of loss, or of their uncertainty about their homes, but only after first asking how I was.
We caught breaths of fresh air at the beach when we could and thought we would get clean air in the mountains when we went to visit Yosemite, after scheduling the trip months ago. Smoke followed us there. Winds blew in smoke from wildfires nearby on our first night and controlled burns obscured Tunnel View the next morning--Half Dome was barely visible. Our misfortune was a minor one, a mere unforeseen obstacle that we were able to step right over, using the hazy skies and rising sunlight to set the stage for fantastic silhouettes.
I hope that disaster doesn't find its way to me, but if it does, I hope I can find a way to view the aftermath in a different light. I hope that I will be able to move forward and move others forward with me.