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Julia Stidham: Winter coat in July

By Julia Stidham | Publisher

I remember when I was about 5 or 6 years old and playing outside. We lived off of Jones Bar Road at the time. Not sure exactly where our home was, but I know it was close to the John Woolman School back then.

My sister and I were playing in the yard; we had a playhouse and some swings and we loved to play outside. My mom was working in the house.

I was running and dancing around, and remember looking up and holding my hands out and thinking it was snowing. A dusting of snow was coming down. I ran to the door of our house and opened the old squeaky screen door and ran through it, letting it slam behind me. This caught my mom’s attention. From the kitchen she yelled, “Where’re you going so fast?”

I said, “I’m getting a coat.”

As I came running out with my winter coat she had a perplexed look on her face, and asked me “Why are you getting your coat, Julia?”

I said, “Because it’s snowing!”

Her eyes grew wide and she turned to go outside. Next thing I knew, she was pretty much throwing my sister and I, along with our cat and dog, into the car. We then sped out of the driveway really fast, with my mom honking her horn as we fled. The only reason I can think of is that she wanted to be loud and to warn others. I imagine we were in the back seat on our knees looking out the back window; no booster or car seats back then! We saw a huge Borade Bomber flying so low and dropping its pink stuff everywhere. In my innocent child way, I was kind of mesmerized by how pretty it was. I also thought to myself how hot I was in my winter coat. It was July and clearly it was not snow that was coming down. They were big pieces of white/gray ash.

The fire did not burn our house, but it came close. The hillside and garden next to the house had pink stuff all over it. I remember we couldn’t eat the vegetables growing in our garden that summer. As my mom said, it could have been so much worse. We were grateful for the fact that it wasn’t and that we got out of there in time. We didn’t have much; money and food were constant worries for our family, but the neighbors all came together. I remember getting some eggs and vegetables from the school. We all tried to help one another get things back to normal the best we could. People we knew and people we didn’t know all came together to help one another after that fire.

And here we are today. Threats of fire now continue all year long, and the fires are more intense. We have years of drought and other environmental impacts causing this lengthier and more intense fire danger; and it is more important than ever to have a plan in place and to be prepared. The good news is that we have so much more in place now as far as notification systems and early warnings.

Have you prepared? Are you signed up with the county? Are you signed up for Breaking News Alerts? Are you familiar with http://www.theunion.com and The Union Now?

Here are some great resources for anyone living in Nevada County:


Sign up for the CodeRED emergency alert system. You can sign up online via the county’s web link or call 211 for assistance: http://www.mynevadacounty.com/1293/CodeRED-Emergency-Alerts.


Although it was mailed to all residents, you can also download the complete booklet on how to prepare: http://www.nevadacountyca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/44617/2022-Ready-Nevada-County-Handbook-PDF.


Do you know your zone? Go here to learn about evacuation zones and how Zonehaven serves community residents as the most reliable source for first-order evacuation updates and preparation resources. http://www.zonehaven.com.


Go here for the most up-to-date information from many sources: Cal Fire, Nevada County, the Sheriff’s Office, Caltrans, Grass Valley police, YubaNet, PG&E, The Union and many more. The Union also has a scanner that you can tune into: http://www.theunion.com/now.


To go along with the above, you can sign up for free Breaking News Text Alerts. Text UnionNews to 86677.

The 2022-2023 Wildfire Season Guide, by the Fire Safe Council, is also available at The Union office at 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley.

Julia Stidham is the publisher of The Union. She can be reached at jstidham@theunion.com


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