Late morning on September 7, Labor Day, I was hot-footing it north on Interstate 5, heading home from judging a horse show in Eugene, Oregon. As I sung along with the radio, I noted to myself how dry the Willamette Valley looked. Along the way I stopped off to meet a friend who lives in Sweet Home, who has a horse boarded with me. We chatted for a few minutes and I whined about how hot and dry it was. She told me they were having a severe drought—river levels were at historic lows and she was worried about water, hay, and fire. She kindly sent me on my way with a care pack of snacks, iced tea, and a new blanket for her horse.
The next morning, I received an email from my friend saying they’d had a high-wind event that had torn leaves and branches from trees and started numerous fires throughout the area. She was evacuating her farm, finding safe places for her many horses, and checking into a motel. The fire was only a few miles from her place.
Meanwhile I’d seen the news of the horrifying fires in California and Washington too. I felt helpless, worried, and depressed. My childhood stomping grounds in the Sierras had been scorched overnight, people were trapped and being rescued by helicopters, and entire towns were being burned to the ground in a matter of minutes.
While I fretted about my friend and repeatedly checked the news, others were called to action. Firefighters were risking their lives. Friends were opening their homes and ranches to strangers and their animals, veterinarians were offering their services to injured animals, and many others were organizing shipments of supplies for both humans and animals. In the midst of ashes, hope.
While researching our feature story this month I discovered many stories of heroism—more than I can begin to report. These are the stories we need to hear. I know I do, anyway. People going out of their way to give to others lifts me out of depression and into joy. I need to be reminded of all the good in the world, the kindness of strangers, and the generosity of mankind.
Helping others in need, sharing our gifts no matter how lowly, is a treasured present not only to the ones who receive but to the ones who give. Giving to others—opening up our wallets, homes, and pantries, and lending a hand where needed reconnects us to our own humanity and encourages us to keep going and find the light in dark times. [email protected]
Kim Roe grew up riding on the family ranch and competed in Western rail classes, trail horse, reining, working cow, and hunter/jumper. She trained her first horse for money at 12 years old, starting a pony for a neighbor.
Kim has been a professional dressage instructor in Washington state for over 30 years, training hundreds of horses and students through the levels. In recent years Kim has become involved in Working Equitation and is a small ‘r’ Working Equitation judge with WE United.
Kim is the editor of the Northwest Horse Source Magazine, and also a writer, photographer, and poet. She owns and manages Blue Gate Farm in Deming, Washington where she continues to be passionate about helping horses and riders in many disciplines.