Northern Tragedy

I had a happy, fun post planned for today, all about Music Monday and the garden centre and how the orthodontist told me Mark’s appointment would be fifteen minutes and it really took an hour, but everything has taken a backseat to the fires in Fort McMurray. If you haven’t seen the images, here is the latest. As of this moment, the entire city was evacuated – that is almost 90,000 people – and 1600 buildings have been destroyed. There is one highway out of Fort McMurray, and the images of bumper-to-bumper traffic while the flames raged within meters will stay with me forever.

My husband and I were watching the news last night, and when a photo was shown of vehicles trying to drive away with flames, smoke, and ash all around, he said, “I guess there are probably lots of kids and families in those cars.” We looked at each other silently, and then continued to watch.

Really, there’s nothing to say and do, being far away, other than to donate to the Red Cross and wait until the fire is out to see what else is needed. It’s a terrible tragedy and I personally know many people who work in, live in, or are from Fort McMurray. I cannot imagine what they must be going through.

The good news is that tragedy often brings out the best in people, as people in Northern Alberta opened their homes to people fleeing. No one has been hurt or killed, everyone in the city, including all in hospitals or acute care facilities, has been evacuated, and two babies have been born at worksite camps. People are working together and will continue to work together, I’m sure.

Sadly, tragedy also often brings out the worst in people. I have some advice for you: during times like this, the only thing that is acceptable to say is this is terrible and how can I help? Not acceptable: politicking and comments that indicate that the residents and workers are to blame for this tragedy. If you have reservations about the energy industry in general, and the oilsands in particular, then those reservations are best kept to yourself until the fires are out and the damage is assessed. Even then, compassion and empathy go a long way. Imagine what it would feel like to leave your home and all your possessions, which you may never see again, with your family in tow and your town burning to the ground behind you. People ran out of gas and were stranded on the highway, with nowhere to go. Unless you have been to that part of the world, you can’t imagine how isolated it is.

Anyway. Perhaps I should end on a more cheery note, the one on which I had planned for today. Music Monday was beautiful, and the children sang Is Somebody Singing, which never fails to make me verklempt. They also sang a bizarre song about a possum comin’ a knockin’, and each classroom had a verse to sing. It…seemed long to me, but it was my kids’ favourite part of Music Monday so I’m happy they’re happy.

For the first time in many years, I have tulips that are blooming! The squirrels didn’t eat those bulbs *knocks wood ferociously* and now look:


I went to the garden centre today; it’s tradition in my house that for Mother’s Day (or thereabouts) I buy myself some plants. I thought I showed restraint:


I texted the photo to my husband, who replied “Not enough.” Is it any wonder I love the guy? I assured him that it was only my first trip of the season. After all, I couldn’t fit more in the cart!

Take care, everyone in Fort Mac. Our hearts are with you. xo


  1. This is such a tragedy. My heart goes out to these families, and especially to the front like workers fighting the fires.

  2. I love that you would end your post on a positive note. Really. You are so lovable!

    I like your flowers and I like your tradition. I usually get something to grow around Mother’s Day, too. I have containers on the patio and I am bound and determined to grow something to eat and something to make birds happy.

    As for the terrible, scary, fires burning.. oh my gosh.. it’s a mess.

    Thank goodness for kindness, compassion, and empathy. Strangers opening their doors to help and shelter people. There is such good in this world! We need to highlight more of it.

  3. Robin Henderson-Coates says

    Oh, I wish I had taken a picture of my van on Saturday! Shopped with a girlfriend, and we had that car
    ram-jam full! From the front to the back. Happy Dance! 😉 Nice haul there, btw., Peady! Woot-woot!

  4. Robin Henderson-Coates says

    Love your tulips. Is that dark one Queen of the Nile?

  5. I have been hearing about that fire on the radio. So terrible…

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