What I Learned in the Fire
In Southern California, we have all four seasons: earthquake, drought, fire and flood. As anyone with cable knows, right now it's fire season, autumn, if you will. And the fire season is largely a result of the other season, drought. I live pretty close to some of the major fires. Yesterday, I took Spencer for a walk. We ended up at an overlook by the beach, with a good view of the smoke from the fires up in the hills. Other people were standing there, looking at the scene and taking pictures. I learned a few things about these California fires:
1. Who Was Santa Ana, and Why Does He Keep Breaking Wind?
There is a phenomenon called the Santa Ana Winds that largely causes and fans the fires. The very strong Santa Ana winds blow from the Northeast. Now, nearly every day for eleven months since I moved here, the wind has blown from the west, straight off the ocean. But the smoke from the fires was blowing the other way, from the hills toward the ocean.
2. It's All About the Animals
A woman came up to me and Spencer, and she was nearly in tears:
It's so terrible. I keep thinking about all those poor animals up there.
I tried to make her feel better:
But this is just natural, right? Even if there was no population up there, these fires would happen anyway.
I don't think it worked:
But ... the animal hospital even burned down.
3. Beachgoing Causes Oblivion
Down on the beach, with the same excellent view of the giant cloud of smoke drifting off of the hills just a few miles away, people were frolicking on the sand and in the ocean as if it was just another Sunday. It was a very strange sight. Would people in Iraq, for example, continue playing their fun game of soccer if bombs starting to go off just a few miles away? I don't know, maybe they would.
4. Horrible Fires Make for Pretty Sunsets
Gorgeous red sunsets, in fact. It has something to do with the sun's reflection on the smoke or dust particles. This thought should make me feel guilty, like saying that global warming is causing the loveliest warm weather in the fall.