"The natural world is violent and dangerous as well as serene and benign."—Thomas Berry
I awoke the other day with my eyes burning and a queasy feeling in my stomach. Cecile wasn’t feeling none the better. We normally keep our sliding door on the second
floor of our town home open to get fresh air when we sleep.
The news hadn’t hit us yet about the two raging fires that were hitting both sides of the state.
In spite of the sour smelling air we took our son’s dog, Daisy for our usual early morning two-mile walk.
When we rounded the bend to the front of the Clubhouse of our gated community.
I photographed the sun blazing through the back of the fronds of a tall, solitary majestic palm tree, giving it the appearance of being on fire. It had a mystical quality to it.
Later, we learned about the catastrophic Woolsey fire in and around Malibu that had engulfed Southern California.
As if that weren’t enough, we heard news of the Camp Fire in Northern California that consumed 80-90% of Paradise, located in Sierra Nevada Foothills, making it the deadliest wildfire in the state’s history.
It didn’t take long before the seasonal winds carried smoke-filled air from the raging fires to entire East Bay including Silicon Valley where we live.
Even those who were lucky enough to buy an N95 mask that filters soot from the air, health officials were still advising people against being outdoors.
Die-hard Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49er fans attended their respective games. The risk of exposure to poor air quality in the unhealthy range is that microscopic particles seep deep into our lungs and enter the bloodstream.
In times like these when a fire makes a mockery of the name Paradise, by unmercifully burning the small, residential town down to the ground, I turn to the solace and irony of poetry.
"California night. The Devil’s wind, the Santa Ana, blows-in
from the east raging through the canyon like a drunk
screaming in a bar.
The air tastes like a stubbed-out cigarette. But why complain?
The weather’s fine as long as you don’t breathe.
Just lean back…lights turned out, windows shut against the [fire] storm and count your blessings...
Relentlessly the wind blows on. Next door catching a scent, the dogs begin to howl. Lean, furious, raw-eyed from the storm, packs of coyotes come down from the hills where there is nothing left to hunt.”
—a poem by Dana Gioia
Our hearts go out to all of those who lost their homes and loved ones during this horrific calamity and a deep sense of gratitude to the firefighters and other first responders who risked their lives.
Photo 1: I captured in front of clubhouse where we live.
Photo credit 2: Helicopter over blaze by a TV news team
Photos: 3 & 4 were taken of vendors with masks at the Saratoga Farmer's market