Recipe for Compassion

A favorite recipe from one of the “crazy” cookbook lady’s 800 books. She received help from the Red Cross when evacuated from the Sequoia Complex Fire.

A self proclaimed “crazy cookbook lady” who preferred not to be named, returned to the Red Cross Temporary Evacuation Point (TEP) at the Porterville College parking lot in the hazy hot afternoon sun to thank volunteers for their kindness. This spry 69 year-old fled to the Red Cross site when new evacuations orders were handed down for Springville, CA as the Sequoia Complex Fire regained momentum.

She took the essentials, but left some 800 or 900 cookbooks in her home to the fates of the fire. She said she’d been through this before, staying in a Red Cross shelter on a cot in a gymnasium during the Pier Fire in 2017.

“I grabbed clothes, my jewelry box, a few books to read and a half dozen cookbooks from my collection,” she said about her hasty evacuation. “I came to the Red Cross and they got me right into a hotel. I was so exhausted, that I slept eleven hours, right through breakfast.”

“We found out that this one lady didn’t get her meal,” said Red Cross volunteer Charles Grissett. “So when they brought lunches to us Red Cross workers at the TEP, we saved one and took it to her at her hotel.”

“You can laugh or you can cry. I choose to laugh,” exclaimed the cookbook lady with a twinkle in her eye above her mask. “I know I have to take my breathing treatments regularly; the air quality was really bad last night.”

This resilient and definitely not crazy lady typifies the independent rural spirit common among evacuees from the Sierra Nevada foothills.

“I’m tough!” she shouted from her car flashing a thumbs up sign.

Story and Photo by Winnie Romeril, Red Cross Volunteer

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