Southern California on fire

This morning ash covers our patio furniture. The sky is brown. The sunlight falling on the deck is orange. Smoke lingers in the air. Fire is consuming our backcountry, and it’s grown big enough, and possibly close enough, that the evidence now reaches the beach. That wasn’t the case yesterday, even though my more inland friends said it was true where they lived.

Fires also ravages San Diego County.

In the ’70s, there was a huge fire on Mt. Laguna in San Diego. We lived many, many miles from the conflagration, but smoke and ash filled the air. My friend Steve and I procured two empty coffee cans and proceed with an energetic attempt to fill them up with ash falling from the sky. Some of the flakes of ash were as big as a quarter. We probably shouldn’t even have been outside. Who knew what damage we did to our lungs!

That night, we drove out to my grandparents’ little pink house in El Cajon and watched the fire, which was at least 30 miles away. You could see it moving across the mountain — up one ridge, then disappearing behind another.

The Mt. Laguna fire is still the most dramatic I remember. It’s the fire by which others are measured, in my mind. From what I’m reading, and seeing, today’s fires may be challengers to the crown.

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