There have been a lot of changes to the Black Forest subdivision since I left there about a decade ago. Most of those changes stem from the wild fires that have devastated the area over the last couple of summers. All lot of the houses that I remember from my youth have burned down. So much of the forest itself has burned down. The black toothpicks and black charred ground has made the name “Black Forest,” somehow more fitting.
As a result of the fires, many of the home owners, including my parents have searched for ways to mitigate the dangers of living in such a dangerously fire prone area. All the houses seem to be in a state of remodel as they add more fire proof features such as metal roofs, stacked stone veneer, and complex sprinkler systems. The home owners have also taken the warnings of the experts that they need defensible space. As such, the thick groves of pine trees that the subdivision was famous for have been cut down next to the remaining homes. When I was a kid, you couldn’t tell that there were any houses when you drove into the subdivision.
There were mail boxes and drive ways but the drive ways disappeared into the thick woods and made the area seem like a remote wilderness. My parents home was built in especially dense foliage. Now, you can see my parents home from a mile away. When you drive into the subdivision, it is unrecognizable from how it appeared a decade ago. Not only are many of the lots burned away with less than ruins where the houses used to stand, but the remaining homes now sit exposed to the passerbys who drive along the roads within the subdivision. My parents are happy with many of the decisions that they made in the fire mitigation process.
They love their new metal roof and they are more than happy with their new stacked stone veneer facade. But, there seems to be a sense of lost in regards to the trees that they had to cut down. They do consider themselves fortunate that their house didn’t burn down. Many of their neighbors weren’t so lucky. While the insurance was able to take care of the financial aspects of the loss, there is no way to replace the memories, the belongings, and the sense of home that so many of the victims of the fire lost. My parents look at the situation as a rebirth. They made more than just superficial changes when they remodeled their home. The stacked stone veneer made my father think of the house as his castle.
So, he added several rooms that look like towers from the outside. He almost doubled the square footage during the remodeling process. The house looks great. My mother has gotten very philosophical about the whole process. She mentions some of the teachings of the East that proclaim that destruction is necessary to move forward. I am happy that they didn’t lose their home or their desire to keep living.