Making the Most of the Wildfire Off-Season

Making the Most of the Off-Season Feature Image

As I’ve shared with you before, there are many ups and downs to living this wildfire life. These ups and downs tend to land in a particular season of this lifestyle…the downer season is usually fire season, although there are perks to this time of the year as well. But, oh the off-season…Wildland Man makes it home in time for dinner (most nights), we can plan trips and time alone, projects and to-do lists get crossed off and completed, life returns to some sense of normalcy.

The off-season isn’t perfect though. It takes some effort to pull off this fire season/off-season lifestyle. Today I’m going to share with you some of my favorite tips for the off-season, so that your marriage can thrive during this time and you can really make the most of the off-season together.

A Roller Coaster Named Fire Season

If there are any other wildfire wives reading this right now, I’m sure you can attest to the fact that the fire season tends to be an emotional rollercoaster filled with hills and valleys. Sure you can get a lot done around the house when your hubby is away. Personal projects, trying new recipes, or in my case, blogging. But with that alone time comes the quiet loneliness of an empty bed at night.

Maybe you are determined to enjoy the quiet solitude that fire season brings. I get it, I really do. But at some point, at least for me, that solitude turns into boredom without my best friend around to spend it with. I mean, yeah, I get to catch up on my girly TV shows and movies that Wildland Man won’t dare sit through. I may even take some time to practice a little self-love and get pampered while he is away. But man, it stings when I am in the kitchen cooking for one or I have a project that has to wait for Wildland Man’s height or strength.

I try to use my singledom when Wildland Man is away to reconnect with old friends and get in some lengthy phone conversations with girlfriends. I may put in some extra time growing my faith or learning new skills for the blog. But while I’m working on myself and my other relationships, there are times (typically after long bouts of no communication with Wildland Man) when I feel like this intentional marriage thing is a fraud. My marriage basically goes on hold when Wildland Man is out on a lengthy detail in the remote wilderness.

Somewhere between those missed conversations, poorly timed phone calls, and other long-distance communication issues there are those honeymoon moments between details. The entire world washes away as my Wildland Man walks back in the door after a long detail. All that loneliness disappears as I am held in his arms.

As wildfire season slows down there is no hard and fast shift into the off-season. The details just become fewer and further between and the opportunities that take Wildland Man away dwindle. You’d think this transition would be all honeymoon after enduring a season peppered with details apart. But this shift from fire season to not fire season is not for the faint of heart.

The Shift in Seasons

It’s one thing to adjust to the transition of having Wildland Man home between details, returning just as I’m starting to get things figured out on my own. It’s a whole ‘nother thing to shift into the off-season.

For all intensive purposes we are coming into the off-season for wildfires where we live. However, this also means, for us, that we are coming into prescribed burn season. So, while Wildland Man will not likely make any 21+ day details across the country until next spring sometime, he will head out for 2-3 days at a time to assist with regional prescribed burns as well as put in long days and even some weekends locally whenever the weather is right for burning.

So, while I have him home, there’s no guarantee he’ll be home. Weekend plans still get trampled, dinner dates turn into dining for one, and any plans we do make will likely change at the last minute, weather depending.

So, yes, the shift from fire season to off-season is a struggle at times. It’s really just adjusting to a new normal, but as with all change, it can take a little bit for that to feel normal.

Tips for the Off-Season

  • Make Big Plans…but be FlexibleThe off-season, as unpredictable as it can sometimes be, is still the best time to make big plans. We bust out our calendar as wildfire season winds down and start filling up weekends with projects, trip ideas, and more. While Wildland Man’s schedule can be busy (like, I don’t know, bumping a home project that needs to be done three weekends in a row due to good weather for burning…just sayin’, that’s real life y’all), we do our best to stick to our plans in order to make the most of the off-season. 
  • Tackle Major Life Stuff Now – The off-season is the time to review the budget and prepare for next year’s taxes. It’s when we check out our insurance plan options, schedule all of our medical appointments, and knock down our to-do list. I’ll admit it’s a delicate balance of getting a lot done with just relaxing into having Wildland Man home. But, it is worth the effort to try not to have to make any major decisions alone or at the last minute during fire season. And, added bonus for Wildland Man, the more we can get taken care of when he is home, the shorter his honey-do list between fire details. 🙂 
  • Do Things You Enjoy Together – While the fire season can sometimes feel like the single-life, the off-season is the time to go on dates, have a picnic, or spend a weekend at the beach. Plan a camping trip, go on evening walks together, or cuddle up to some favorite movies. Whatever it is that you enjoy together, the off-season is the time to get these moments in, creating memories you can hang on to during the fire season on those lonely nights. So, take the time to plan for them, knowing that your off-season time is limited and before you know it fire season will be here again. 
  • Make Time for a Marriage Check-In – As I mentioned in the tip above, it can be difficult to be intentional in your marriage during the fire season, so the off-season is the time to get down to the nitty gritty and really evaluate your relationship. Make time to check in with each other, talk through any issues or concerns, share your emotions, and clear the air by resolving any lingering hurts before the next fire season comes around. This is the time of year to getaway for a DIY Marriage Retreat and give your relationship some much-needed TLC to recharge and strengthen your marriage. Then, just let go and enjoy each other for the rest of the off-season while you are in it. 

It can take a bit to find your groove in this fire life. The fire season/off-season dynamic takes some getting used to. And, at least in our case, it changes with every career move and geographic location we end up in. Just when I think I have things figured out, it seems we go through another period of adjustment.

If I could share just one piece of advice with any other fire wives out there, or really any wife that has a husband with M.I.A. moments due to his career, it would be this: just go into your circumstances with intentionality and purpose. Your marriage cannot only survive these crazy situations; it can actually thrive…if you approach it with intention.

Sure, there will still need to be adjustments to your routine, shifts in your schedule, and altered expectations. But you can make the most of your off-season, however that may look, with a little bit of effort.

I sure hope some of these tips that have worked for Wildland Man and I might also be helpful to you. While this life I know, the fire life, is a unique one, I think that many wives may be able to relate with similar circumstances. Lineman wives have husbands on the road for weeks at a time, military spouses have to deal with deployment, and structural fire wives often have times when their husband is on duty at the fire station for lengthy intervals. Whatever your story, I hope you might be able to pick apart my experience to find what could work for you.

Obviously, I’m an advocate for intentional marriage, it’s my passion really. Maybe I discovered this passion through this wildfire life out of necessity to keep the flame burning in Wildland Man and I’s marriage amidst the distance during fire season. All I know is with a little bit of planning, a whole lotta devotion and time toward my marriage, and some intentional daily efforts, my Wildland Man and I are thriving in this fire life.

If you are looking for information on how you can make your marriage more intentional, be sure to check out some of these posts here on CWC:

So, wives, are you reading? What’s your story? Does your life have an off-season, so to speak? Can you see yourself trying out any of these tips in your marriage? Do you have any tips you could share with a fellow wildland fire wife?

I’d sure love to pick your brain a bit…if you are reading and you are brave enough to share your thoughts by commenting at the bottom of the page I would absolutely appreciate it! And I’ll do my best to respond to your comment just as soon as I can!

Be Still & Know…

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2 thoughts on “Making the Most of the Wildfire Off-Season

  1. I always enjoy reading your blog posts! You are so descriptive and witty! Most of all, you are full of love and so wise, maybe “an old soul?”

    My husband is retired now, but for most of our marriage he worked 7 days on/7days off. Yes, he had honey-do lists and appointments to go to, and we tried to do something fun while he was home. I also remember he was happier the first part of the week and then towards the end, he would be moody and be aggravated more. He did not like being away from home. So, we all have to adjust or “go with the flow.” The two of you, being best friends and being intentional to your marriage adjust better than most. I know your faith is strong and your heart is Big! Love!

    1. Awe, Laura, you just melt my heart with your loving words! Your support for me on this blogging journey means more than you could ever know…thank you for always reading and sharing your thoughts. Much love!

      Be Still & Know…

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