Monday, November 12, 2007

Found Treasure

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Path Of Fire Through A Canyon

Our Team Sifting Away

Found Treasure (Box of Coins In The Foreground)

Flag Flies Amongst The Remains

The Team

Saturday morning I headed off to Rancho Bernardo to join one of the fire recovery teams. On my way I picked up an older gentleman from church. He was eager to volunteer - but doesn't drive on the freeway anymore. We chatted on our way on up the 15 and in a matter of moments we made a profound connection. It turns out my new found friend is a fellow Canadian. Although he has lived in the States for over 40 years, he was born and raised in Saskatchewan! I lit up right away and started talking 'Canadian'. S- could celebrate with me the recent triumph of the Canadian dollar and reminisce about the days when a trip home to Canada meant a shopping spree with everything 30% off! He also informed me of the dismal track record of the Hamilton Tiger Cats this season.

In the Taco Bell parking lot, we met up with about 50 other volunteers and received our team assignments. Last time I was sifting with several teenage girls. They were so unbelievably patient. Searching for and painstakingly piecing together pieces of shattered china figurines. This time I had a car load of teenage boys. Teenage boys, being teenage boys, - were full of enthusiasm and all sorts of helpful driving suggestions. One boy is a member of the AVID program at school --helping with the fire recovery will help fulfill his community service requirements. Besides, they said, helping with the recovery is something they wanted to do.

We were only a block from Taco Bell when we turned down a street and saw the shocking site of a grove or black scorched trees. All of a sudden the car went silent. Seeing and experiencing the impacts of a natural disaster or different then watching them on TV. One of the boys started to share his story. He lives in Escondido. When the fires broke out, he was evacuated and went to stay at his step parent's place in South County. They stayed up around the clock watching the fire coverage on TV. They kept watching the lists of streets and home numbers scroll by showing the homes that had been lost -worried that they would see their home on the list. The fire was in their neighbourhood a few blocks away. One of the fires in South County started to spread and he had to evacuate a second time. This time he went and stayed with a school friend. The boy that had come along with him today to help sift through the ashes.

Our team was assigned to help a family that had been on vacation in Las Vegas when the fires struck. They never had a chance to save any of their valuables. The man had been an art collector. Unfortunately, none of the art work survived. Very early on we started to find coins. They were in the area of the children's bedrooms. They were so blackened we aren't sure if it was the contents of a kid's penny jar or an actual coin collection. We were just glad to find something that had survived. We sifted for hours and hours and retrieved a mound of coins!

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