A week ago my husband and I headed up to Tahoe to spend a few days. It got us out of the smoke in the valley caused by the #CampFire in Paradise, California. The massive wildfire wiped out the town and well over 10,000 homes. Thousands have been displaced and many lost everything. For a few days we were above the smoke that created health hazards and made breathing difficult in the valley. It was pure luck that we escaped to a higher elevation—we had made the reservations several weeks earlier.
There is a delightful art gallery that I love to visit when we go to South Lake Tahoe. The Marcus Ashley Gallery has many wonderful artists that it showcases, including a Dr. Suess collection that will take you back to your childhood. Now don’t think we are some sort of one percenters, we are middle class hard-working people who occasionally go out of town and even less frequently we purchase a piece of art. As we walked into the gallery that day, I told my husband that under no circumstances would we be buying anything this trip. We didn’t need any art and with the holidays coming we shouldn’t spend the money on it.
And then I saw it. “Gathering Love” by Mackenzie Thorpe stared at me as I approached. The figure in the piece is plucking hearts from a field. The faceless character had no color, no gender and no age. It was clothed in a simple heavy overcoat. The sky in the background reminded me of the smoke-filled skies of Paradise and beyond. The hearts spoke of love being plucked up, harvested from seeds planted previously. I admit tears came to my eyes. It represented everything that was happening at that time. My niece and her family lost their home in the fire, as did some of my real estate clients and some good friends. We all seemed to wander a bit in disbelief. So much destruction, so much devastation, so much pain, yet there was also an outpouring of love. Our communities came together to help, to serve and to give from our hearts and our bank accounts. The people of Paradise, Magalia, Concow and Pulga were reaping the love that had been sown by so many in the surrounding towns. They were literally gathering love and we were mourning alongside them. This picture came home with me and it will forever remind me of the loss of so many homes and businesses, the loss of so many people, and of the love that it takes to rebuild homes and lives. Our hearts and prayers will continue with those who lost everything in the #CampFire. We love you friends, neighbors and family. And we are here for you.