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Just 4 short years ago if anyone would have told me where I would be now or the things that would be important to me I would have laughed at them. Then I moved from one world to another and is much too short a time that world ended too.

When I came her to this wild and beautiful place less than a year and a half ago not only was my heart broken but my spirit as well. There is such beauty here that my spirit could not resist it for long. I had a long way to go and still do for my heart to mend if it ever does, but slowly my spirit started to heal. I no longer had any need to hurry. Time meant nothing to me there was nothing to do but let the natural beauty here revive my spirit and soon my soul was rejoycing to my environment.

When planning the trip last summer to my granddaughter's wedding in Louisiana I had the feeling that I would never see my home again or the beauty of nature and freeness of spirit that I had come to love. Each afternoon I would spend hours outside just trying to drink it all in to take with me always fearing that I was about to lose it all.

There were hundreds of birds of all kinds but mostly Bluejays and Blackbirds. Earlier in the year there had been Robins but by summer they had moved on. There were also many quail and those were a special treat to me. I could remember hearing the quail roosters crow in Washington and how excited Johnny would get. They were also one of the signs I had asked him for to let me know when he is with me. Each afternoon as I sat there in awe looking at the mountains of green trees against a crystal blue sky I could hear the wind in the distance and listen as it made it's way ever closer until I could feel it on my face. Sometimes on special days I would see a shadow and look up to see the Eagles flying high overhead. Once in a while the sun would catch on their white heads as the swooped toward Earth.

The first few days after my return I couldn't make myself do anything. It was as if I just had to sit and look and let my spirit absorb all of the things I had missed. Then just a little over a month later the fire swept through here threatening to consume everything. Most of our homes were spared but returning and seeing what the fire had done, what it had taken was like a physical blow.

Everywhere you looked instead of the beautiful evergreens you saw charred skeletons. Some stands of oak were not burned but their leaves were scorched and brown. The most devistating of all was the lack of animals and birds. Hundreds, probably thousands were killed in the fire unable to out run it's speed. Many more ran ahead of the fire and had no reason to return.

Where once we would see several deer a day come through or just lay on the lawn sunning themselves we saw only one sick buck. After spending a day on the lawn barely able to move from one place to another a neighbor found him dead in his yard. Where once there had been hundreds of birds with their ceaceless chatter there was only silence. It was months before I saw a single Bluejay and even longer before the Blackbirds returned. The only thing that seemed to remain were the Humingbirds and to my delight the quail.

I had looked forward to Autum and the colored leaves that I loved so much. The year before I had been in Washington and Johnny and I had shared the breathtaking beauty of the many colored leaves. This year there would be no colored leaves. Everything was gone but those black skeletons against the blue sky.

I had little hope for Spring. Then nature decided to teach me a lesson. The lesson of rebirth! Weeks before the grass seed was dropped on the mountains patches of green started to show. In some places the fire had burned so hot that not even the skeletons of the trees remained it seemed that even the dirt had burned. In other places the fire had moved so fast that many of the roots had not been burned. It was from these roots that patches of green started to show long before there was even any rainfall.

Once the rains started the grass seed that had been planted turned it to bright green patches. It was a sign of new life but at the same time it seemed to emphasize those dark skeletons.

We were blessed with a milder than normal winter and many flowers that would normally have died wintered over. Those flowers started to bloom early and for some reason their colors seem brighter than they were last year. Between here and Redding and even in the yards here in the park trees started to bloom and sprout early. It seemed there was hope for spring after all.

Lately I have noticed more birds around and once I planted my pansies I found evidence that the deer were coming back at least at night. My pansies had lost their heads to them! I've yet to see one but just knowing they are here is a wonderful surprise.

Yesterday on my way out of the gulch to go to town I saw Redbud trees blooming. In places they were up against a burned tree trunk. The California Poppies are everywhere and somehow their color seems more golden and the Lupin seem a more vibrant shade of purple.

Today I got one of the best treats of all. I was eating my lunch and looking out my Bay Window when a shadow caught my eye. I got a tingle up my spine because it was the last thing I expected. I went to the window and looked out and sure enough there was an Eagle swooping low over the park. I hadn't expected them to come back because both nests had burned and there are no trees left that seemed high enough to house them.

There are still many things missing. It will be years before the evergreen trees return and I can hear the wind coming before it gets here. For some reason the Robins are making an appearance later. I haven't heard of any spottings of bear or cougar like there were last year but I know in time they will find their way back. After all this is as close to Paradise as you can get on Earth.

I know this is long and I know it has nothing to do with Lung Cancer but it does have something to do with life. This story is about rebirth, rebirth of my spirit and rebirth of an area that seemed destined to stay stark and barren for years.

While I watched the Eagle fly I thought about Dean Carl and his pleasure watching the birds in his yard. I wanted to tell this story and I wanted to do it in such a way that I hoped would paint a picture in your minds but especially in Dean's mind. Dean I hope you can picture what I have told here and get a fraction of the joy these things have given me.

There has been so much pain here lately and a lot of controversy. I thought maybe a story of Rebirth, a story of God's precious gifts to us might be something that is needed here to lighten our heavy hearts for a while. If ever there was a message of Hope it is the coming of Spring when all Earth shows signs of rebirth.

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