There have been many blessings during our flight from the wildfires in Fort McMurray, chief among them were the children I met along the way. In Anzac we were with many people we had never met before. One little girl came and stood in front of me and asked, “Who are you?” I told her my name and she gave me hers. A conversation was struck and after the panic and stress of fleeing fire and smoke it did my heart good to speak with her. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I remember the laughter. She was so precocious and I was glad she was there along with several other children.
I already knew a couple of the kids because they had visited their grandparents – the people we rented from and who were also friends of ours. There were other relatives there I had met, nieces and nephews of our friends. Another little eleven-year-old girl also struck up a conversation with me. We talked about the fire and what it would mean for Fort Mac; about our pets; about the future and how long it might be before we could return home. She is a smart child and in many ways wise beyond her years. All of the children were very matter-of-fact about the fire and were busy playing with the dogs or running about playing together. I was impressed with how calm they all were, even as the adults worriedly checked their cell phones for updates.
The next day with news of the fire spreading there was a flurry of activity as we all packed up to go our separate ways. Our little group elected to go down the road to Lake Christina. After we had settled there the children were quick to explore the campground. Later I grabbed my camera as my husband and I were planning to go on a little walk and Avery, our friends’ little granddaughter, asked to come along. Her brother was busily hunting for bugs to feed his pet lizard and she was bored. We set out to explore a little bit with Avery chatting away. She was telling me how she liked to use her imagination and I told her how much I enjoyed that too when I was a little girl. Naturally she had to have examples and we compared stories. The sky was blue, the sun was shining, and for those few precious moments the horror of the fire receded as I enjoyed her company. Later that evening with news of how fast the fire was spreading and knowing we were still in its path we hauled up stakes to move on again. Along the way we met many people; one young mother I stopped to chat with was holding a baby approximately seven months old. As we chatted the child gurgled and grinned at me and I was charmed.
It was moments spent in the company of children that helped me through the initial flight. Children are naturally curious, open-minded, and trusting. They have much to teach us, and for me, they are balm for the soul.