Fire Detour


Non smoking, please.

The wildfires burning the hills of Los Angeles spread to the Sepulveda pass, shutting down the highway, and with it, the bus line that I normally take for my morning commute. So I’m presently on an adventure: heading into downtown to take the red line through a different pass. 

It’s moments like this that I start thinking back to my dramatic literature studies. Every story starts out the same way: Once upon a time there was a [character]. Every day they did [action]. One day [event] happened and everything changed. 

By the rules of the First Act, I’m currently exiting the Ordinary World and headed towards a Call to Adventure. It could even be argued that I’ve Refused the Call at least once, since I did my best to find a different bus along my usual route before diverting to downtown.  I should be Meeting a Mentor here any minute. 

I’m not sure where this story is headed, but, of course, that’s kind of the point. 

Yesterday, I didn’t have this problem because I drove. I had an eye doctor appointment before work, so I headed out the door and almost immediately found myself shrouded in the dense haze of smoke from the fires up in Sylmar. When the sun came up, it glowed through the smoke like an angry red eye. Overhead a conspiracy of ravens circled to complete the effect. The poor Curmudgeonly Lion spent the whole day working in an office directly in the densest part of the haze. Today, I’m noticing a lot of people wearing face masks. I don’t much blame them. Driving home, I elected to follow an out-of-the-way route that took me through the Topanga canyon on a winding, two-lane road; which would have been fine if the minivan had not been loaded with a heap of (irony or ironies) firewood, which changed the balance of weight. Even so, I made it home in record time. 

The fires have been aggravated by the Santa Ana winds that have suddenly come hurtling off the desert. At night we listen to the knocking of the pine trees beside the house as the winds whip them against one another. I think that our risk of being in the path of a fire is low- one of the advantages of living in the lowlands among the hoi polloi, but I still worry about what I’d do if we had to evacuate. Or rather, what I would do if we didn’t have time to evacuate and lost everything that wasn’t on our backs. It’s a situation that I hope I never have to face. 

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on December 6, 2017.

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