Kage Baker was a Californian, but not of all of California.
She thought of herself as an inhabitant of the liminal zone, the boundaries between what is Familiar and what is Unknown. Specifically, she considered herself a coastal life form, with additional migratory routes into, out of, and all around the weirdness that framed the I-5 Highway. Kage lived, literally, on the edge of things – for most of her life, she could get to that edge in less than an hour. She could usually see it from the roof of wherever she lived.
Living on the edges of things, however, has its inherent dangers; Kage knew that well. Most of them are disasters, that sweep down into civilized lands from Beyond the Fields We Know. Living on the edge of the civilized places, you automatically get hit first when wilder, noisier, scarier things sweep in … floods. Fires. Plagues of cockroaches and howling mice.
The last 2 days, fires have been gulping at the edges of most of the lands I know best. The Los Angeles Basin has been mostly spared – at least, insofar as the fires have been small and brief and easily extinguished. However, to the South, the Anaheim Hills are in still in flames: ashes are falling on the immaculate streets of Disneyland, and the statues of Mickey and Walt are silhouetted against what looks like the forest fire that almost kills Bambi … though it appears that the Happiest Place on Earth will be unharmed.
To the North – my heart is bleeding, as the Summer Lands Kage and I loved are burning. Friends are losing their homes, their pets, their lifetimes of safety. A huge holocaust of grapes is going up in smoke to the uncaring gods (the reds, mostly; the whites were mainly already harvested), along with orchards full of apples and walnuts. Pot farms and other fragrances and essences, olives and pomegranates. Old, beautiful buildings; thousands of homes.
I am lucky. Few places I have lived have been destroyed, and most of the dear people I live with on my travels to and from Dickensian England are still safe. But I am watching the news on every medium in the house, in fear for my friends’ welfare, and the Northern land I love.
That’s pretty much what I’ve been doing for the last 2 days, Dear Readers. If you are not already embroiled in worry for the endangered, if you are not running from the flames yourselves – please spare a prayer for the thousands who are. Some of the loveliest land in all of fabled California is burning under the waning moon tonight. San Francisco is fearfully awake under a pall – not of fog, but of acrid smoke.
Smoke and flames, and ashes, ashes of roses. Hard times, Dear Readers; a bitter harvest this year.
You said it so well but how I wish there had been no need to say any of it. 😦 May the fires subside very soon.
It’s very scary right now her in Northern California. As of last night’s news only two of the several fires were 3% contained and the gusty winds would be flaring up again overnight. That’s what caused the fires to move so quickly in the first place Sunday. The smoke is horrible; our air is acrid and yellow-grey and I’m 60-70 miles from these fires. The air quality is dangerous throughout the entire bay area and will get worse before it gets better, probably not until next week. The air is the worst we’ve ever seen, even worse than we had after Loma Prieta earthquake and Oakland Hills fires of recent but long-term memory. For balance, the weather gods have also given us incredibly beautiful but ominous sunsets.
The fire has touched everyone who lives here. My nephew and his wife moved into their new house two weeks ago and have been evacuated twice now. Since the winds have made the fires sometimes go back and burn what they missed the first time through, I’m still worried they might lose everything. There are over 200 people missing; granted, about 75 cell phone towers were lost in the fire and phone access is spotty. We pray that they are all safe somewhere and just unable to communicate that.
I heard on last night’s news that due to the early harvest most white wine had already been harvested and was in the tanks. If they survive the heat exposure, the wine should be fine. The reds still on the vine have thicker skins and should be protected from most of the smoke. The harvesters may be the worst hit, not the vintners. Many live near or on the wineries so both their homes and their jobs burned.
One thing we’ve learned from other disasters is that some people won’t leave their homes without their pets but most shelters don’t allow them. Some shelters are set up specifically for people with pets; they are calmer with their pets nearby and safe and the pets aren’t running around lost, terrified and in danger. This is a good thing all around.
There are heroic stories coming out of the disaster, just as you hear of heroes in every disaster. People jump in and help each other; firefighters and police are saving other people as they lose their own homes. Local people started bringing food, clothing and necessities to shelters before they were even set up completely. Pharmacies are donating medicines to those people who had to leave their homes without their prescriptions. Problems like this remind people we’re a community.
We’ve weathered disasters before and will be able to do so again. Just pray for rain.
Don’t worry, Lynn – say what you want, at any length you want. I appreciate the on-site updates, as it were, and I am sure other folks who live outside the area do as well. This is an especially California disaster – some of our best bits are burning! News from the fronnt is always welcome.
Kathleen, I’m sorry. This is your blog, not mine. (I don’t have on.) That reply shouldn’t have been so long.
Lynn, as Kathleen has replied to you, your post was *not* ‘too long’ nor was it unappreciated.
Any news is welcome, especially since (as you mention) cell towers are down, and communications from ‘the front’ is scant, at best.
Yes, the heroism of ‘average people,’ is inspirational and heartwarming.
They are doing Good Deeds, and acting unselfishly in a time of crisis and anxiety.
Thank all the heavens for those people, may we be just a ‘good’ if we were in the same places.
Let us all pray for rain (or hope, if one is not religious), send want donations that you can, and lend emotional support to those we can reach out to.
These are amazing times, and many are rising magnificently to meet them.
… grrr … meant to write ‘… send *what* donations we can …’
Hey-ho, and a merry et cetera, eh?