Thursday I felt fine all day. Then I went to practice - where I had both Brogan and Staffan all to myself because nobody else showed up. Two White Scarves ready to tire me out and overload my brain with notes for the mental filing cabinet, and I came apart. I picked up that sword and struggled the entire time with pain distracting me while two of them were trying to tell me to do things. By the time I said "I'm done," it felt like my elbow was burning inside. It hadn't felt this bad in months.
To add insult to injury, Thursday's dinner gave me the trots and I was up most of the night dealing with that as well as elbow pain despite icing it and taking ibuprofen.
There I was, Friday, trying to conceal from co-workers what a foul temper I was in, knowing I didn't dare pick up a sword the way things stood and dithering about whether I should waste a tank of gas on an event to lend moral support to people who probably didn't need it anyway, because I sure as hell wasn't in any shape to try to fight in the tourney. I was hating on the world and everything in it. I desperately needed not to be thinking about work, about rapier, about hurting every time I picked up a rapier, about the SCA and pasting a peerlike demeanor on my face when I damn well didn't feel like it, about Staffan's belief that I had the potential to be a good fighter when I could barely think because it hurt so bad.
....when I got a notion into my head. I consulted the internet kami of the NOAA weather, the National Park Service and Yosemite Lodgings. $60 later I had a tent cabin in Curry Village booked for Saturday night and I was feeling significantly better.
I was out of the house by 6 AM Saturday morning. I took a LOT of pictures. But I didn't think about work. Or the SCA. And the only pain I was thinking about was how much my feet hurt after a day of mini-hikes all around the valley. (Though I do need to ice my elbow after I write this.)
The approach was simultaneously heartbreaking and inspiring: I drove through a portion of the 400 square miles stricken by last summer's Rim Fire. The "Rim of the World" vista point on Highway 120 in the Stanislaus National Forest now overlooks bald, brown mountains instead of forests. As you head east on Highway 120 you think you've gone color blind because the stands of evergreens have turned a weird, autumnal orange. Some are half-and-half where only part of the tree was scorched. Eventually, if the Forest Service doesn't clear them out (which they've already done in some sections), they will drop their needles. Then the branches will dry out and fall. The Rim Fire areas will start to look like the fired out stretch below Highway 41 inside the park - a few spiky dead trees still standing here and there, while low-to-the-ground plants grow in the open space.
Everywhere a stupid human could possible pull over is posted with signs forbidding entry and announcing fire danger, because what's there could still go up like torches.
As you drive, you see places where the fire hopscotched the road. The posted burn zone continues past the Hwy. 120 park entrance, but is nowhere near as bad as it is down the hill.
It was the birdsong that kept me from tears as I stood by the roadside at Stupid Early O'Clock in the morning. The birds are in there,even among the burned out trees. Presumably other wildlife is as well. Seedlings will sprout. Eventually. It will come back, but it won't be like it was in my lifetime. More photos of the Rim Fire aftermath at http://www.flickr.com/.../7010497.../