Southern California fires overshadow "Along The Way" blog's first year anniversary celebration. I may share my reflective observations on this first year of blogging sometime in the future.
But my thoughts are continuing to be pre-occupied with the devastating Southern California fires. I am so familiar with many of these areas that are being ravaged. Irvine was subjected to loss, though not the Amphitheatre where I enjoyed summer concerts about which I wrote here in earlier posts. The news mention of almost every Southern California community affected by fire arouses recent or past memories of just driving through there, sometimes of time spent there, often when my husband was still living, or my children younger.
Only a few weeks ago I travelled on Interstate 15 to a class at the Escondido hospital in San Diego County, near where my long favorite Bates Brothers Nut Farm is located. Some years ago our children walked through the pumpkin patch, each finally choosing and picking their own Halloween pumpkin. Another favorite site of ours there is the nearby San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park. Hills all around Escondido are covered with avocado trees. I've heard no news reports to the contrary so trust those locations are spared. The first days of the fires this week, the traffic had come to a complete halt on that same I15 freeway and I could well imagine the discomfort of those stuck out there.
That morning going out my front door looking north toward the mountains the sky was a brightly colored blue. Then, as I drove southward in my car, I noticed the sky had an ever so slight tannish color, much like the sky I remembered when we lived in Arizona and a dust storm was headed our way. Here in California the next morning when I left the house the northern sky remained blue as before, but the southern sky was a darker brown. The following morning, the northern sky was blue as usual, but the southern sky a darker dirty-looking brown. My voice became raspy walking a short distance from a parking lot to inside my building destination. In the afternoon, as I walked north toward my car I saw only a brownish glaze over the once blue sky as far as my eye could see in any direction. I wonder what this next day's sky will be?
Another less recent memory was four years ago when we had driven to San Diego and were grateful to have had reservations to spend the night there, when news revealed fires had arisen in the area. The flames were moving rapidly, until at one point the TV announcement was made that all routes in and out of the City were closed due to fires. We ventured to dinner at the motel's restaurant, but after returning to our room, stayed inside as cautioned, due to the the smoke-filled unhealthy air, especially debilitating for those with respiratory problems as my husband experienced. Shortly, we were startled to hear named on TV our home city in the northeast corner of Los Angeles County, accompanied by horrifying pictures of destructive fires, houses burning. Our home was not endangered, though I phoned a local friend just for reassurance. We were subjected to restricted exit routes driving home from San Diego the next day, passing burned-out blackened areas along both roadsides. We encountered a driveway full of ashes, spread about like snow, when we arrived home.
As I write this, news media focuses audio and video on mountains east of us where fires are raging in the San Bernardino County area which is -- was ? -- the location of a mountain cabin owned by a relative of dear family friends. This cabin was available to individual family group relatives to provide an opportunity for their togetherness. I felt honored to be allowed to stay there. The cabin was spared during a severe fire in the Running Springs area a few years ago, but family members think it is highly unlikely a similar survival has occurred this time. How grateful we can all be that no family members were present there, so no lives were at risk. Another nearby mountain community, called Lake Arrowhead, has experienced the loss of several hundred homes, many likely the residences of elders, but at least their lives were spared.
Then, there's a popular resort area called Big Bear that's battling fires and is the residence of a friend's sister. I haven't heard about the nearby Idyllwild community with homes scattered through a wooded area that's home to more hummingbirds than I've every seen in one location other than the San Diego Zoo bird sanctuary. I wonder what has happened to those delicate little birds up in those mountain areas? Perhaps they had gone south. Last year, I sold my husband's station wagon to a gentleman who told me they had a second home there and he planned to take it up there to be housed in a garage, especially through the winters. I think he and his wife are safe, but I find it strange that I wonder about the welfare of that vehicle, but I do.
Rehabilitation facilities such as where I provide services are receiving inquiries as to how many beds they have available. Whether or not they will actually need to be utilized is presently unknown. How that may impact the amount of time I will need to make available remains to be seen. I'm just glad my earlier medical issues which side-lined me those weeks beginning around the end of August are resolved and I'm back at work.
Almost everyone I've encountered, old and new acquaintances, neighbors, co-workers, friends, has had reason for concern about these fires. For some the issue was whether or not they could drive home after work. For others, their anxiety has been about their friends and family, or they have related stories that someone they knew had probably lost their home. At least, so far, no one I have encountered has had to experience anything beyond material loss, but that is heart-breaking, too. I feel sadness for them. My heart goes out to all who have experienced loss, including those professional workers, but especially to those injured or who have lost loved ones. The fires are not yet contained, so we don't know what may lie ahead with the capricious winds. You can be updated on the most current reports through your local media and a multitude of computer news sites.