Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Ashes From the Fire Land in My Coffee

It was more than a little annoying at first, being unable to avoid the swirling little bits of ash that were coming down all around me. There was the realization that I was inevitably going to end up with ash in my coffee, and there was nothing that I could do about it. I'd not watched the news, so I wasn't aware of the extent of the fire to the east in the Cleveland National Forest that had caused at last count the evacuation of at least 2,000 homes.

Today the fire continues unabated; but the wind seemes to have changed direction enough so that the ugly, ominous cloud was no longer hanging overhead and the heat of the day could be enjoyed in full. Ironically, it's the first day in weeks that I'm not sneezing my head off incessantly.

The sidewalks of West Hollywood seem largely deserted; Ginger Rogers Beach is in all likelihood packed with anyone who has the time free to enjoy it. Perhaps I'll head out there tomorrow. The November before the Northridge earthquake, you could watch the Malibu fires burn from the shore. I watched the lines of fire marching like Sherman to the sea flames late at night from the end of the Santa Monica pier, warmed by the same Santa Ana winds that fanned the flames. It was quite the unexpected sight for the tourists. When Yuki came to visit the following summer, after we'd recovered --emotionally, at least-- from the quake, I took him on a tour of the Malibu area to show him the houses without chimneys and chimneys without houses.

Sean Penn was camping atop a mountain in a trailer on what had been the home estate he'd shared with Madonna when they were married. He had the money to rebuild, but his smoldering rage at the loss left him sitting there alone sucking on beer after beer staring at his ruins, frightening away any and all offers of help from his friends and family. The recent death of his brother makes me wonder if his family is afflicted with that curious Irish disease.

Just as the victims in most horror flicks tend to be white, so too, many of the victims of this fire, as with the last one and the one before that, were people trying to escape the hordes of darker skinned people who made up the masses of LA. It tended to temper my sympathy a bit, as beautiful as the mountains are.

Of course, a number of retreats and artist's colonies were lost in the last fire, too.

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