The first month my husband and I lived in our current neighborhood, we watched a house across road from us burn to the ground. The scent of smoke began to pervade the street around 8pm, and at first, could have been mistaken for a campfire or barbeque.
Soon the air became hazier and it was obvious something was wrong. Neighbors and volunteer firefighters walked up and down the street looking for the source of the smoke for a half an hour before visible flames began to shoot out from the house across the road and three houses down from ours. Within another 10- 15 minutes the house was engulfed in flames.
I had never met the owners of the house or been inside their home, but I knew they had lived a lifetime in it. I could tell by their back yard. It faced a stretch of the walking trail my husband and I walk every evening. We were just learning how hard it is to maintain a green lawn, and theirs was thick and lush. They had a gated herb garden with a stone walkway that curved past a coy pond and a bench swing. Their friendly dogs wagged their tails at us when we passed.
After the fire the owners (who were not home at the time) were initially resolved to rebuild. But they never did. They sold their lot and moved. Another house was hastily built, sold and another family moved in. But they never grew the garden back. They filled the coy pond in, and took down the swing. The friendly dogs are gone.
I felt the same sadness that I felt watching that house burn when I saw images of Notre-Dame burning on Monday. I’ve never visited, but I still feel such an incredible sense of loss watching something that took over two lifetimes to build burn.
Strange Happenings This Week:
Look for the full moon on Thursday, April 18th.
If you enjoyed David Robert-Mitchell’s It Follows, keep an eye out for showings of his new film, Under the Silver Lake.
Photo credit AP Photo/Francois Mori