this afternoon as we entered our gate for the second time since the fire, my heart sunk to see the number of trees marked with dark red x’s. we took our time touching them. stooping to see what we could find in the ash. forks still laying in the metal basket that kept them organized in our silverware drawer. a thermos i bought for jack to take to work on cold mornings. a piece of pottery he made his junior year of high school, his initials and the year still clearly visible on the bottom. but miracle of all miracles the pine sapling fence he built still stands. inside it our garden had exploded in our absence. ripe fruit hanging from brittle branches. fire roasted jalapenos and too many heirlooms to carry in our hands. anyone who gardens knows what finicky and particular plants bell peppers are. this summer i felt i had finally gotten a hang of their idiosyncrasies and before the fire i was only days away from picking my first, perfect pepper. today i got the chance. and for a moment i caught myself dreaming.