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.