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Saturday evening view of the Bighorn Fire from my Tucson apartment balcony. — Photo by Pat Bean

“We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.” – Barbara De Angelis

I was born in Dallas, where tornadoes sometimes ravage the landscape, including a recent one near a granddaughter’s home as it rampaged through her neighborhood destroying quite a few homes and nearby businesses.

I lived for 15 years on The Texas Gulf Coast where I survived several hurricanes, including Carla in 1961, when our family had to evacuate the area and not return for over two weeks. We lost a freezer full of meat meant to feed the family for several months – and because of the stench, I trashed the freezer as well. The electrical power was off for weeks.

Another view of the fire in the Arizona Star.

For 25 years, I lived along the earthquake fault line of the Wasatch Mountains in Utah, and although I never went through a major shake, I was bounced around a few times by shock waves. And I narrowly avoided a landslide in Sardine Canyon between Logan and Brigham City just a couple of months after I moved to Utah.

I’ve been stranded a few times by floods, and watched as rivers rose to destroy homes and land. In 1995, I enjoyed a camping trip from hell when a landslide took out the Zion Canyon Road in Zion National Park. Our group was snowed on, rained on, and had our tents blown down by the storm that hit the area.

Mother Nature can be cruel.

But I try to respect her while continuing to enjoy her bounties, which have given many delightful pleasures and much peace during my lifetime.

Sitting quietly by a rivulet of water as it gurgles its way down a mountain canyon, basking in the colorful shimmer of aspen leaves in fall, eating lunch behind a waterfall in Deer Creek Canyon in Grand Canyon National Park, or hiking a bench trail on Mount Ogden have been just a tiny few nature activities that have kept me sane in an unsane world.

The road to the top of Mount Lemmon in a photo I took last year on a day trip is now closed. — Photo by Pat Bean

Even in today’s self-isolation environment I daily watch birds, and the ever-changing seasons of the landscape from my third-floor balconies. I often see the sun blossom from behind the mountains before I rise from my bed, and I try to be on my living room balcony to watch sunsets as they dazzlingly color the sky with yellow, gold, orange and red before disappearing below the horizon.

Such scenes lower my blood pressure.

But not the one I saw Saturday night from my bedroom balcony. A fire started by a lightning strike in the Catalina Mountains has now consumed nearly 60,000 acres and forced numerous evacuations of small mountain communities. And the news this morning noted that the fire has only been about 20 percent contained. Nearly 1,000 firefighters and plane-dropped retardants haven’t yet been able to match Mother Nature’s power.

Eventually, the landscape will recover and actually be richer because of the fire. But many people may not have the means to recover. And this is just a small pocket of the larger picture of what the coronavirus is doing to the world’s economy.

Let’s face it. Life is not fair. And the only control we have is how we react to it. My hope is that somewhere in the equation kindness and love will win out over the destructive forces of nature — and the harmful and hateful side of the human species.

Bean Pat: To all the firefighters and support crew working to contain the Bighorn Fire in the Catalina Mountains.

Silver Lining: Democrats and Republicans, in a rare bipartisan moment this past week, passed the Great American Outdoors Act to fund over $20 billion worth of delayed maintenance projects in America’s parks and public lands. I love this for two reasons, first because I love public lands and second because the two polarized political parties worked together. Hopefully, this unity will continue to foster things that are to the benefit of all Americans and not just benefit one party or the other.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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