The news from Mordor

Friday the wind shifted so San Jose on the other side of the hill got our smoke, which was both a relief (we could breathe, and we could see where the smoke was coming from) and a curse (we could see where the smoke was coming from.)

The smoke was coming from about a mile and a half up the road. Gulp. All day we watched the planes and copters at a distance, in and out of the billows. Then in the afternoon they changed where they were getting their water from and began to fly over the house, a constant round of beating rotors.

Funny thing is, what the CDF uses are converted Hueys, so all those films of Vietnam, the war built on choppers? That was us.

But The Phone Call didn’t come (as if the automated Sheriff’s evacuation line could have gotten through, with all the calls from distant ex-students and the neighbors wondering if we could see any more than they could) and there didn’t seem to be a huge panic on the road below, so since the refrigerator was empty and I had four relatives coming for the weekend, I went shopping.

It was the first time I’d been out, and when I looked back at home, I wished I hadn’t—the entire stretch of dark hills was emitting smoke, like the steam pools in New Zealand. I drove fast, and shopped faster.

As the sun went down, we could see flames. We assured ourselves that it was what the firefighter on the news had said, that they were boxing the fire and letting it burn out, but those flames on the ridge had to be twenty, thirty feet high. It looked as if a volcano had opened up, red and angry. Not what one attributes to the Santa Cruz mountains at all.

My brother’s family got on the plane, arrived at the airport, and my daughter and her husband drove them down. They followed the flames nearly the whole way, and by the time they got here they felt as if they were bringing the ring to Mordor.

But the flames started to die down by 4 am (not that we were keeping an eye on them or anything) and we’re now embarking on Memorial Day Weekend, beginning with breakfast then the farmer’s market and a barbecue inaugurating my daughter’s new patio this afternoon.

We’ve all decided that we have really had enough excitement for the time being, so although I can wish you a thrilling weekend, we’re happy just to sit on the unburned deck and stare at each other. With cups of coffee in our hands before noon, and bottles of beer after that.

Happy Memorial Day, sans Hueys.

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  1. Laraine on May 24, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Happy Memorial Day to you and yours, Laurie. May absence of fire and abundance of tranquility and familial love be the hallmarks of this weekend for you and your dear husband and family. Wish we could send you some of the remarkable unseasonal rains that have been hanging around down here in SoCal, but I must say, my flowers are absolutely dancing with joy; so maybe I’ll just leave well enough alone, and trust other [and gentle!] rains will visit you soon.

  2. KarenB on May 24, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    I’m thinking that perhaps barbeque might be a bit redundant?

  3. riobonito on May 24, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    I hate wild land fires…thank God you are all well. Here in the central Sierra’s we sit in cold and rain. A week ago, 100 plus..then the winds…no fires. Tomorrow’s outdoor bridal well probably not going to happen…I thot when we planned this three months ago we’d be safe, except from maybe to warm and skeeter’s..despite the disapointment, I say thank fires..and you are safe. I hate wild land fires. Thanks for the update. Now hire some burly men to push back the brush and get a good fire break. Happy weekend with family.

  4. denisen1 on May 24, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    Really, really glad to hear all ok at Casa King! Used to live in Morgan Hill, and remember one significant fire there (about 22 years ago, give or take). The Dept of Forestry equipment trundled down my family’s two-lane road towards access roads cut through cattle land into the hills. Gigantic bulldozers, large-wheeled fire engines, all full of gung-ho young men and women ready to risk their lives saving our homes. They did too – save our home. So if you happen to see any of those kids on break around town, will you buy them a cold soda and give them thanks from the Fraser family?
    Happy Memorial Day – best to you and your family!

  5. wsmvgn on May 26, 2008 at 8:48 am

    Relieved to hear you’re OK.

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