Thursday, September 26, 2013

HotShot Crew Honored by Brendan McDonough's Resilience

Granite Mountain HotShot Crew remembered during 4th of July celebration

      Brendan McDonough is the young Granite Mountain HotShot firefighter who was assigned to be the 'lookout' and so was not in the same location with the rest of his crew - all 19 of whom perished on Granite Mtn. in Northern Arizona earlier this summer.
     Brendan was the guest speaker at Parkside Community Church in Camp Verde, Arizona recently. I attended the church service with a need to hear his story (yes - 'history'). He sat just seats away from me and I could feel his pain and agony as he was introduced while video images of his crew in earlier days moved across the large screen and a recording played of Vince Gill singing Go Rest High On That Mountain.
     I had prepared myself that, in attending this event, it would be painful. I also recognized that 'my' emotional pain could not compare to Brendan's. As we sat listening to the mournful song and watching images fade in and out on the screen of his crew in earlier times, moving about the wild lands landscape working and or smiling and joking glad to be where they were,  I thought, "why are they playing this?"  It's so painful for him! But quickly I realized too - grieving IS painful, but must be done. Brendan was in tears, as were most of us in the audience.
     With my own emotions welling up, I wanted to give him a comforting hug and to hand him my own Kleenex tissue, as he tried continually to wipe away his tears - bare handed, but I thought better of offering my own tears on the used tissue to mix with his own. About that time one of the ushers appeared at his side with a box of tissues. I was relieved.
     He wasn't what you'd call a wholly eloquent speaker, just a young kid trying to speak about a dreadfully difficult experience, in essence, trying to tell us how he came to be spared death while the rest of his beloved crew was not. The pastor accompanied Brendan onto the stage where they both sat and spoke of the events of June 30th. Pastor Martin gently guiding Brendan through the pain. It was acknowledged that Brendan had given this talk a number of times already, it was obviously still painful to go through.

He didn't tell us much that we had not already heard though the media, but hearing in his own voice about what happened that day somehow helped me in thinking that I was 'helping him in his grief' if that makes any sense. He seemed to be in somewhat 'good spirits' as he told a funny story or two surrounding the camaraderie of his crew in earlier times.  Brendan, through no design of his own, will spend his life dealing with an incredible burden - no matter how well he handles it, or seems to handle it.
     After the service he was available for those who might speak to him. Of course I had to. After waiting my turn in line, I gave him a hug, and simply said that I would be thinking positive thoughts for his future. I mentioned  to Brendan, my son-in-law Jonathan (who IS) and his wife, my daughter Beth (who used to be a firefighter) and my personal connection to that world. Jonathan and his own Camp Verde crew had been sent to fires in New Mexico just days prior to the Granite Mountain incident. It was another group of wildlands firefighters, (who on occasion had worked alongside Jonathan's crew) who discovered the remains of the '19' on Granite Mountain.
     I gave Brendan a copy of Listen To The Noise with a hope that the music there, with no connection to 'fire,' might give him a opportunity to escape in the melodies. I hoped that it might at times ease his mind.
     His look, his demeanor, his speech patterns, Brendan's apparent sense of integrity and personal dignity, his love of life are so reminiscent of my perception of the young, optimistic, energetic wildlands firefighters I've encountered over the years in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Arizona.

The day after the tragedy as a way of dealing with my own sense of grief over that event, I'd written a lament for the loss of the 19 firefighters. I may revisit that 'ode' in years to come but right now it seems too sad to listen to again.
    Anyway, I think it's good that he is sharing, not his 'experience' (we can't be THERE with him) but his story. I think it's good for him to talk about it so it isn't 'shut up within him to fester and eat away at his soul, and good for us to have hope about life and the delicate twists and turns that come with living life to the fullest. His very presence offers 'hope' and a sense that even in the harshest events - all is not lost.

- - - - -   Communications Gap Found in Granite Mountain HotShots Death Incident - - - -
The folowing link is an update to the blog, a report of the investigation of the incident on Granite Mountain published via NPR on Sept. 28, 2013:

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Meet the Blogger!

Still Adventuring

                           After All These Years!


B. Marie Jarreau
began her adventures as a U.S. Air Force Air Traffic Controller shortly after graduating from high school in her native New Orleans and immediately enlisting in the military ‘a few decades ago.’ 

Since those exciting days, she has seized opportunities to be involved in a myriad of unusual and fascinating experiences.  Radar operator on a deep water shrimp trawler off the Yucatan Peninsula, Pacific island tour guide, broadcast radio DJ, student pilot, freelance writer/photographer and print journalist with an exciting portfolio, are but a few of the occupations that fill Marie’s history and from which she draws her musical and creative-writing inspiration.
The once painfully shy little girl grew up to be quite the adventuress who has crisscrossed the U.S. just to see what she could see.  A bronco-busting, bull-riding petite lady, she has always had an insatiable curiosity about life and what makes things ‘tic.’
After spending decades as mother and housewife and hospital administrative worker; after rearing her two children and finally divorce; Marie has returned to that same curious, adventurous spirit that has carried her down roads less traveled by women in those earlier times.

                                                                   Serenade at CopperDog Studio, Winnipeg, Canada

 Marie began work as writer/photographer for a weekly newspaper while living in southeastern Ohio in 1996. She continued in journalism with another weekly news paper after relocating to Oregon but she has been observing life and its mysteries since her childhood in the South. With that insatiable curiosity, especially for all things wild and natural, Marie has lived and worked and visited areas throughout the continental U.S., Canada and the Yucatan Peninsula. Her travels, hobbies and personal interests often provide subjects for a varied range of written, photographic, illustrative and even musical works.
As a journalist/freelance writer, subjects of her work included feature stories, politics, sports, community affairs, art, science, landscape and land-use, wildlife and special interest issues. She has photographed, interviewed and published stories about a number of high level political figures as well as humble hobbyists and other interesting, average private folk for a variety of periodicals. She created, developed, self-published and personally distributed a small local periodical called "Good News" for which she also produced the written and photographic content. "Good News" focused primarily on art and artists in and around southeastern Oregon's high desert.
With a life-long love of learning and sharing information Marie has enjoyed a number of interesting careers and occupations which include:
- US Air Force and Navy Air Traffic Controller (Radar Approach Controller/Instructor)
- Radar Operator on deepwater shrimp trawler (fishing the deep waters off the Yucatan Peninsula)

- Disc-Jockey for KIBL AM radio station, Beeville, Texas  

- Fulltime writer/photographer and freelancer (WA, OH, OR)

- Admin. assistant for a local network television station in Florida, and until 2011, in a clerical position for a hospital radiology/imaging department.
Marie and 'friend' 1974
Since retiring in 2011 she has returned to her deep love of music as vocalist and guitarist with a fancy for writing her own songs as well as performing well-known standards from blues to jazz, folk, pop, country and even bluegrass, Celtic tunes and more!
The latest CD ‘Listen To The Noise’, (a non-gratis project)  produced by a good friend at CopperDog Studio of Winnipeg, Canada, was released in August 2013.
Interests and hobbies include: Family (two grown daughters living their own adventurous lives away from home), vocalist, guitarist, pen and ink artist, woodworking artist, organic gardener, amateur astronomer, seashell collector; photography, story-teller, writing a series of children’s books, fiber arts, watercolor, friendships and conversation, spiritual awareness and TaiChi.
Currently Marie spends her time exploring new adventures since relocating to the fascinating landscape of Arizona. Writing songs, performing, recording, and starting her own writer’s blog (TheCobbleStoneMuse) ensure opportunities to continue to share her literary skills, and a return to her love of music.
Marie Jarreau, checking out a bareback bronc at the 1975 California State Fair Rodeo!