Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's not the kind of thing you want to see on your way home to the suburbs, and for the second time in a week. Our house is in there somewhere. I was going to draw in an arrow, but then I thought they all look the same anyway. How worried am I? On a scale of 1 to 10, "1" being no fire and "10" being on fire: 3. Closer to 2. Perhaps I should be more worried. The wind is blowing it the other way, and there are quite a few houses it would have to ravage before it took ours. What bumps it up to 3 is that dry field there, just near my place. If the wind changed direction just so, it could whip a wildfire up what I call the "Guajome Corridor" -a minor swath of kindling and tinder along the border of Vista and Oceanside that stretches from the San Luis Rey right up to the pumpkins on my doorstep. And the San Luis Rey is a vast swath of an emptied powder keg, a no man's land where illegal migrants burn campfires and arsonists hone their craft. On the other side of the San Luis Rey is Camp Pendleton, where the current fires are. It sounds far, the way I put it, but it's probably not even six miles. There are homes over there, nice ones, and thousands were evacuated last night.

I've never seen the smoke from these fires blow directly over our street, meaning we're rarely downwind of it, so I don't get too concerned. But there are bums who light little fires out in that field over there, and kids have been caught with fireworks and stuff on more than one occasion. Anything could happen, I suppose, but you pull into traffic every day and anything could happen then, too. The most dangerous thing I did yesterday was stand at the top of a ladder on the edge of a steep hill in a high wind. I held on to the aluminum I had just screwed together. It was the stuff America's Funniest Home Videos is made of.

So we try not to worry as a general rule. "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?" so sayeth The Man. But I lay in bed last night and remembered that I didn't have any pictures of the newly remodeled Little Ditchman's bedroom. Without photographic proof, her furniture wouldn't be covered by the homeowner's insurance in the event of a devastating fire. And we haven't even begun to start paying it off.