The second family that we met, as we surveyed recovery work being done by Presbyterian churches in the San Diego area, consisted of Diane, her son Mark and the dog Max. Diane's place is called Leaning Oak Ranch--it is really an 11 acre enclosed area. The leaning oak was a once tall lovely tree that burned to the ground in the fires.
As with the other people whose stories we heard, Diane said she was watching the fires as they raged around where she lived. Her house was down in a somewhat sheltered ravine, so she thought the fires would pass her by. Her neighbor whose house was a quarter of a mile away had external propane tanks. When the fires hit the neighbor's house, the tanks exploded, spewing burning fuel everywhere. Diane's house caught fire, and everything went.
Diane exuded a life affirming aura. Even though her place was gone, and the recovery efforts treated her as though she were a human pinball, she bubbled with affirmation. She immediately set up hummingbird feeders. She also planted flowers, and vegetables. Even the burned down oak is beginning to sprout new leaves.
To help her, the church built her a shed. She lives on the property, in a small motor home. She is afraid to leave the place, because looters have hit her place, stealing the few possessions she has left. As if life had not already dealt her a bad hand, her mother is in a hospital miles away
It is amazing that someone who has gone through the fires around San Diego last year could still be smiling after having lost everything, but Diane is still smiling.