Today a man came up to me in the coffee shop and asked about my t-shirt from one of the big wildfires. He wanted to know if I was an actual firefighter and when I told him I was he thanked me for what I do. I don't normally think of myself as deserving of thanks. I am not the kind of firefighter that gears up, throws the oxygen tank on her back, and runs into burning buildings to save babies.
I am the kind of firefighter who throws her pack on, grabs a tool and hikes with her eyes focused on the feet in front of her. I am the kind of firefighter who digs and scrapes and drags brush and tree limbs. When the fire burns loud and hot, I hike out and wait. Most of the time I forget that even though I'm not working in burning buildings, the reason I hike into the mountains and dig line and spray down flames is to protect lives and property. Maybe I'm a little more disconnected from this truth, but people like the man in the coffee shop today remind me of my purpose, and I am grateful to know that my work is appreciated.