Wandering through the aftermath of a house fire is much worse than actually watching the house burn down.
Even though this was a necessary step for building our new house, the absence of the old farmhouse is jarring. When we pulled up the driveway for the first time since the fire, I felt physically sick. It looked like a fresh wound; like a picture of a place where a bomb has been dropped.
Jasper, the girls and I walked around the old foundation briefly, looking at what was left, but then we had to leave. It was just too much, that first time. Instead, we wandered in the woods and the upper field, where everything is still as it always was.
It gets easier, though.
The firefighters did a great job; they managed to save the big Port Orford cedar, the Italian plums and the pioneer apple tree in the garden (though I doubt they’ll fruit this year), the rowan tree and even the Japanese quince bush, which was literally right next to the building. That these are still here is beyond heartening.
And we’ve started cleaning up, and sifting through and clearing out the metal from the rubble. Our builder says he’s going to have people out soon to break up the old foundation and spread gravel and sand, and then we’ll stake out the new house.
Overall, it feels more like progress now, than destruction.