Last year, it was such a novelty to see the flames, not only on the TV news, but as we drove through Burbank on our way home from IKEA. Flames in Griffith Park, and the subsequent ashes that floated like hot, pissed off snow down to our car's windshield had some serious "wow! that in unreal...." awe power. Climbing to the top of Fryman Canyon (which some people do for pleasure and exercise--crazy people) was the perfect vantage point by which to see the billows of smoke rising up from the mountains surrounding our valley.
But this year? Not quite as impressive. Possibly because we're in the process of getting ready to leave and I am doing my standard "shut down emotionally about everyone and everything around you---very grounded and centered way of dealing with change" routine. But most likely because this year's fires seem particularly damaging.
The main fire this year (thus far) has been about 12 miles from us. Because of the lack of wind, which is actually a good thing as far as fire fighters are concerned, the smoke from this fire has been going straight up into the air--giant billows of it, over and over again, the newest billow forcing the last one up higher towards the sun. In the morning, what little of the smoke has spread over the sky turns the sunrise red. Once the sun is completely up, the billows hang on the horizon, growing, fading, growing again.
This morning we woke to smoke hanging stagnant outside our doors. Not the thick smoke of a nearby fire, but the thin, pervasive haze caused by a light breeze. Overnight the winds pick up, and spread that mushroom cloud all over the city before they calm down again in the morning.
It's really an awful way to live. Knowing that a fire 12 miles away is going to keep you and your preschooler inside for upwards of a week, or driving some 25 miles away to the beach to get relief---you'll still be able to see the vast plumes of smoke, you just won't have to breathe it in.
We also have our own potential tinderbox in Fryman Canyon, which is only blocks from us. Not really understanding how quickly fires spread, I have no idea if we'd be evacuated should something spark that too-hard-to-climb pile of brush. But I'm hoping that we're well on our way out of here without ever needing to find out.
Not sure if you're anything like me, but the longer I'm away from something or someone, the more my memory irons out the edges and rough spots of an experience. Work places that were ulcer-producing or relationships that sent me running to a therapist like my hair was on fire and she had the only bucket of water in town all seem less dramatic or horrible as time distances them from me. Maybe it's just a human defense mechanism, but it's always struck me as strange how I'm able to look back at not quite conjure the "bad" of something. So, to that end, here are some pictures of this latest fire, in case I find myself next summer, pining for Los Angeles, thinking "those fires weren't really so bad."
the view a block away from our house.
Nuclear holocaust? Oh, no. Just LA in August...