something I didn’t talk about much at the time

Originally posted on Twitter, August 18, 2020. Copied here for posterity since I deleted all my tweets.

Short story, a thread: The house is hot. We have to keep the windows shut due to the fire a few miles away, but we can still hear the helicopters, fire spotters, and air tankers fighting the good fight. The sky is orange.

I get in my car, which is covered with ash, to take a break in the AC. I drive into town to get our mail. Before entering the post office, I put on a disposable mask. There’s not much in our box since the president is trying to cripple the mail to hamstring the upcoming election.

But I really came here to check on the new fire that just flared up closer to home. Back in my car, I rub sanitizer into my cracked and dry hands as I ponder finding a good vantage point to take a picture or video. I don’t want to get in the way, but I do want to chronicle.

The stream of civilian trucks hauling cattle trailers toward the fire – to save the horses on the hill – makes me feel like a jackass. A voyeur. I pocket my phone, go home, and remain grateful for all the good I can claim in the midst of all…this.

Four days later, we had to evacuate our home for three days due to the fire. We were lucky not to lose anything but sleep.

Written 12/1/22: CONTEXT FOR THE ABOVE

Five months into sheltering/freaking out at home in 2020, I woke around 3AM on a Sunday morning to a sound rarely heard in coastal California. Thunder. The kind of voluminous thunder that in Texas would make you worry about a tornado. There was so much lightning, it was like a hundred flashbulbs were going off outside our bedroom window. But there was no rain, which was eerie. Just strike after strike.

A dry lightning storm is the oddest weather phenomenon I’ve ever experienced, and this one sparked 650 fires in northern California, including the River Fire about 10 miles away from our small house in Carmel Valley.

The River Fire was soon joined by the Carmel Fire, which was much closer to home. Together, they caused orange skies, showers of ash, hazardous air quality, and sore respiratory systems for weeks. Helicopters and planes that dump water and fire-killing chemicals flew overhead when it was “clear” enough to do so–many times, the smoke was just too thick. We were lucky, only having to evacuate for three nights. Many others weren’t.

2020 wasn’t anyone’s idea of a fun time. Pandemic, orange menace in the White House, lost jobs/wages. It felt like the beginning of the end. Or maybe not the beginning. More like chapter five or six. Like, we’re really getting into the meat of the story now.

Two+ years later, it feels much the same. Like one and a half shoes have dropped and we’re all just waiting for that last half a shoe. Only thing I can say is, go ahead and get the fries. Who knows how long we’ll be able to pull this off. Or if they’ll even be able to fight the fire.

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