Wednesday, October 24, 2007

WILDFIRES 2007! - Day 3

There was no orange glow on the horizon last night. I would say that that is a breath of fresh air, but the statement would conflict with its own literal sense, in that there hasn't been one in a few days. Puffs of ash swirl about your feet when you walk down the sidewalk, open the car door, and so forth. The red eye at the center of the solar system winked shut last night, and across the sky another red eye opened: the moon. (Wish I could get a picture of it.)

And I can't tell if this scratchy throat of mine is from the smoke or the virus, but that's life in SoCal for now. (I'm not looking forward to working in it.)

The ash-laden sky cast an erie pall throughout the house all afternoon, as if the neighborhood was wearing an old pair of Ray-Bans, or something. Everything was just a brownish-yellow -jaundiced- and you didn't notice it until a white page came up on the computer screen or TV and you'd think, whoa! I forgot about white, for a moment!

We stayed inside most of the day. There was a sad exchange when the Little Ditchman wanted to go outside. "Owtsite! Owtsite! Owtsite!" and it just breaks your heart that you can't explain why you have to say 'No' -one of those parenting moments where you realize how God must feel. And then she started begging determinedly for the beach or the pool, which garnered the same negatory response, to her chagrin. Not one to give up easily, she left the room and came back with her bathing suit, which she then donned, if only to spite us. Sorry kid. You're cute, though. (Another one of those Godly thoughts.)

My daughter notwithstanding, I've really been impressed with how the county/city has been handling this crisis with the fires. Sorry to bring up a Katrina comparison again, but Southern California evacuated a half a million people in less than 48 hours! 640 square miles have burned, over 1300 homes are gone -and only one death! The National Guard has been mobilized, nearly 2000 firefighters are busting it out, and the stadium downtown not only had more volunteers than it needed, officials were turning away donations of supplies this afternoon. Why, the refugees themselves -people who had just lost everything they owned- were reported to be donating blood! Again, only 48 hours have passed. Don't wait up looking for the comparison in the evening news. Unless, of course, you want to blame the fires on global warming, at which point the ball is squarely back in Bush's court.

Speaking of the evening news, for all those people who just lost everything and then were asked by a TV reporter "How do you feel?" It's payback time:

The guy who follows him I'm not so sure about, but I don't want to be too hard on Larry Himmel. That's the most honest bit of TV reporting I've seen in years. You really feel for him. When you hear the trembling in his voice and the pauses between the words of him naming what once was, you can sense his trying to maintain self-control with all the memories whirling through his head. When he points at his hose in the driveway, there's a moment where you can tell he's thinking, "Wow. They used my hose. They saved my hose. All I have left is this hose." In an interview later, he mentioned that the previous day he had been covering folks who had lost their homes, and then went home himself that night moved by it all, sharing with his wife and teenage son how difficult it must've been for these folks to lose everything. Little did he know, tomorrow's story was him.

Sooner or later tomorrow's story is all of us, to beg profundity, but it is somehow. What goes around, comes around. And these fires, though they'll be out there fighting them for the next week or so, will be back next year or the year after. Just like the hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes. God just shakes his head. Some of them learn, some of them don't. To beg profundity.

Best not to dwell on it. I prefer, instead, to dwell on this:

(Note mismatched two-piece, an odd third piece in hand.)