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 didnâ€™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 didnâ€™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 Iâ€™d been out, and when I looked back at home, I wished I hadnâ€™tâ€”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 brotherâ€™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 weâ€™re now embarking on Memorial Day Weekend, beginning with breakfast then the farmerâ€™s market and a barbecue inaugurating my daughterâ€™s new patio this afternoon.
Weâ€™ve all decided that we have really had enough excitement for the time being, so although I can wish you a thrilling weekend, weâ€™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.