It’s safe to say that I’m a nurturer.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Hurray for baby vegetables!

If you know me in “real life,” or even if you only know me through this blog, it’s pretty obvious that I’m always getting excited about baby leaves and teeny tiny flower buds.

I love nurturing and growing things. And I’ve always been that way.

I’m not alone.

Anyone who’s raised a child or loved a pet feels the same way. Any gardener who’s planted something small and helped it grow to fruition feels the same way. Anyone who has grown a relationship with another person feels the same way.

Right?

We may each have different approaches, but in the end, growing is rewarding. The more we grow, the more texture we add to our human experience.

Right?

But dang, sometimes those growing experiences can take the wind right out of our sails.

Right?

I don’t know about anyone else, but sometimes it takes me a day or two to recover from various experiences. This past weekend was a good example. I was too wiped yesterday to blog about anything.

Before I share what happened, let me first share some of the babies from my garden because they make me so happy!

Like the Chayote, which is growing strong:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Hurray for baby vegetables!

And the baby tomatoes!!!!

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Hurray for baby vegetables!

Baby pepper:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Hurray for baby vegetables!

Baby strawberry:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Hurray for baby fruit

Baby Zinnia bud:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Hurray for baby vegetables!

Pretty little Thunbergia flowers:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Hurray for baby flowers

Newly sprung Gaillardia (Blanket Flower):

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Hurray for baby flowers

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Hurray for baby flowers

I love all those little guys! It’s a lot of work growing them in containers – most mornings, I go out armed with rubbing alcohol and q-tips to fry any bugs I see – but they’re coming along so well!

They are a welcome relief from “real life.”

So what happened over the weekend?

Well, regular readers know that I’m a volunteer for the local chapter of the American Red Cross. I’m on a disaster team, and have been for about seven years. (I met both Expert Dottie Correll and Expert Lewis Casey through the Red Cross, btw.)

Basically what that means is that when there is a natural disaster, we respond. Nationally, the Red Cross responds to tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes. Here in Albuquerque, it’s almost always a house fire. Our goal is to make sure everyone has shelter, food and clothing.

More often than not, the calls come when you’re sound asleep.

Early this past Saturday morning, just before 4a.m., I got a call from Lewis, who was the captain for the disaster team. There was a home fire in the East Mountains, he wanted to know if I was available to go with him (we’re not supposed to go on calls alone). I was sleepy, but I said yes.

Was it inconvenient? Sure. Would I rather have stayed in bed? Absolutely.

But then I would’ve missed an opportunity to meet a gentleman who was humbled by how his dog alerted him to the flames and saved his life.

And I would’ve missed watching the full moon set over the mountains as the sun rose.

And I would’ve missed Lewis’s good company and leadership.

The rewards were greater than the inconvenience.

Then, on Sunday morning, after having breakfast at the Grove, I got in my car, turned on to Edith, and boom, there was a house on fire. I pulled over. People were coming out of neighboring houses, stopping their cars and getting out, everyone was calling 911. Some people tried to fight the flames -which were coming out the back of the house – with garden hoses. Neighbors were rushing to make sure the house was empty.

The fire had just started, yet already it was consuming the back half of the house.

We must’ve all been on the same wavelength, because everyone who had a car jumped back into it and moved it to the next block – there was nothing we could do except make room for the firetrucks.

A garden hose was no match for those flames, we needed the big guns.

And they got there fast, within minutes of those first 911 calls. Those rockstar firefighters were all over it.

Here’s what the house looked like shortly after they arrived:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, house fire in Albuquerque

Once the firefighters showed, I made my way to the people who lived in that house and identified myself as a volunteer with the Red Cross (I had my badge in my purse).

The house was a duplex, and the occupants were renters. One of them told me he’d only been gone 15-20 minutes at the grocery store, and came home to smoke pouring out of the house. The other tenant had been home and managed to escape safely. The fire started and spread so fast, they were lucky to be alive. Also luckily, there were no kids or pets in the home.

We watched as firefighters battled the blaze, and everyone hoped that they caught the fire early enough to spare most of the house.

And then this happened:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, house fire in Albuquerque

Something in the attic caught.

Once I saw that, I called Lewis. He was still the captain on duty, and these folks were definitely going to need assistance.

The house ended up mostly destroyed. Here’s what it looked like hours later:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, house fire in Albuquerque

I ended up being on scene for more than four hours. We helped the tenants, both financially and emotionally. We thanked the firefighters and policemen.

I thought I was going to spend the day watching the Indy 500. Instead, I watched someone’s house burn. Which sucked. And was draining. The rewards were not abundant.

I posted photos on facebook, and people started throwing the “hero” word around. I think that’s very sweet, but I’m not a hero. I didn’t risk my life like those firefighters – they’re the heroes. Those guys, along with our military heroes and other emergency personnel, swore to serve and protect. I took no such oath. I didn’t risk anything by helping others.

What I am is a nurturer. And someone who believes neighbors should help neighbors. Which makes me exactly the same as 99% of the population.

Will I take credit for volunteering my time to help others? Yes. And I’ll take credit for doing what I said I would I do. I’ll take credit for the hard work. But those things don’t make me a hero. They make me human.

I’m not trying to be modest. I’m trying to make sure we’re not setting the bar too low.

I worry, are we starved for heroes in our world? Maybe we’re so jaded by the constant beat of inane celebrity stories in our news feeds that we can’t help but lavish praise on the ordinary.

If I’m a hero for acting on a basic human instinct to help others in need, if I’m considered special for donating a little bit of my time, then aren’t we aiming low?

Call me naive, but I still believe the vast majority of us would’ve pulled over the moment they saw flames, just like me. Or reacted just the same way that folks did in Oklahoma, and in Boston.

Maybe that makes us heroes. Or maybe it just makes us decent human beings.

I dunno.

What do you think?

Can you see why I needed a break yesterday? It wasn’t the holiday weekend I intended to have, but then, it wasn’t much of a holiday for the fire victims, either.

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