As you may know, I live in Sonoma County, CA which is the area affected by wildfires right now. It’s been a scary week. But also an interesting week.

Sonoma Wildfires

Backing up to a few days before the fires, on October 4th, a friend of mine ‘challenged’ me on Facebook to post a black and white photo each day for 7 days. The photo was meant to depict something about my life but not show any people. No words were meant to accompany the pictures. 

I had enjoyed seeing my friend’s life through her 7 photos with no people in them. And it was an interesting, simple thing to do.  I never do black and white photos so I thought I’d do it.  

Half-way through the week of photos, the wild-fires started and I was evacuated from my home. I continued to take some photos but didn’t post the last one.

On day 7, the whole concept of removing color from photos struck me as an analogy to how I was feeling. My world lost its color with the wildfires scare for a few days. 

The photos

The first photos that I took before the fires all had me thinking how colorful my life is. I didn’t enjoy making them black and white.

The first was a group of birds bathing in our fountain in the garden. So sweet. But I missed the beautiful hues of the green grass and chair, and the birds’ colored feathers. Look at that fluffed up bird at the front!



The second one was the church where I sing in SF, St Dominic’s.  There are beautiful, colorful, stained glass windows there, but none of that showed up.

The third was some nibbles I made for friends who came around one evening.  It included orange, white, and purple colored carrots – they don’t look great in black and white. The pretty napkins looked dull.

No. 4 was our wine. We make Birdland Merlot from our own grapes. Every year we produce it, we change the color of the label and they are all bright cheery colors. The black and white photos lost that key part. (You can tell that we didn’t design the Cave Dog label for our white wine!).



No. 5 was my pet parrot, Harold. He is a beautiful green with yellow, red and blue on him too. 



Then, Photo No.6 was the hillside to the east of Sonoma on fire. Everything already looked black and white. The sky was full of smoke. The land was burned black. There was no color to take out from that photo. 


And the last photo, I never posted on Facebook. Not that it was particularly scary or sad from the fire. It was the view I saw from my window one night of a huge billow of smoke. I didn’t sleep that night. I’d already been evacuated once. The smoke smelled so strong that I tried sleeping with a mask on. But again there was no color to the photo. And I just didn’t feel like posting it then. Here it is:

Photo of smoke from wildfires in Sonoma hills from CALMERme


Making those first five photos black and white took something major away from them. The last two photos were already stripped of color.

And for a while, that was how it felt too. I lost the color in my life for a couple of days. Things seemed black and white. How do I get out of here? Did our house survive the fire or not? Where would I sleep tonight?  

Restoring the color again

But today, the world seems to have color again. Those few black and white days are gone. 

Nothing has really changed: The fires are still burning. We haven’t been able to go back to our home and see how it is.

We are safe though and I believe we will have a home to go back to. Lots of people are in such awful situations with nothing left. We are lucky.

But it is the love and support and concern from family and friends all over the world that has brought back the color into my life again.  Even people I hardly know. Even people I don’t know. It could be someone saying hello with a smile and asking how I am doing; or sending an email or text; someone commenting on facebook; sending their love; keeping in touch; giving us somewhere to sleep; taking care of Harold. However large or seemingly small, each personal connection brought back some color.

If you are reading this, you are probably one of them. And if so, thank you for your colorfulness. 

And if you are reading this and your world seems black and white, I hope you get your color back soon. Look at the beauty in others. It shines in the brightest of colors. 

The “rule” of the seven photos was not to show any people in them. Maybe that is why they had to be black and white. We need community and people in our lives. Thanks for being in mine.

With love and such appreciation,

Ruth xxx

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