Sunday, October 28, 2007

San Diego Fire, Sunday October 28, 2007

"All the day
had been a dreary one at best, and dim
Was settling to its close, yet shot one grim
Red leer to see the plain catch it estray."
Robert Browning, Childe Roland

We drove from San Diego to Riverside on Friday 10/26 heading north on I15 which had been closed sporadically earlier in the week. Passing Rancho Bernardo, we could see the hilltops where houses once were. This picture is near Rainbow. You can see the active fire making smoke in the background toward the east. In the middle, you can see the house on the hill was saved, but it appears that the avocado trees downhill in foreground are gone.

J&K were able to pick up some mail in San Bernardino that had been held in the SB post office downhill, while their home in Lake Arrowhead is still closed. We went to Tio’s for dinner just as the sun was setting, reflecting red in the smoke from the active fires to the west of Riverside – presumably in Irvine.

Some of the more creative topiary in Tio’s is filled with bottle caps, recycled small metal hardware etc. Not sure if you can see this guy’s anatomy, but there’s a delightful chrome faucet hinting at anatomical correctness. This might be a good strategy for people who lost real topiary in the fires. Or not.

So, our exiles are still back in San Diego with us. I was hoping to work in the yard today but the smell of smoke is too daunting. We keep getting warnings about air quality, and we were reminded that the poor San Bernardino valley is trapping all the smog and smoke, further confirming the Riverside boast: "Air quality you can see!"

On our travels Saturday, we did notice a friendly attitude yesterday, whether it was in stores buying extra socks for K or in Starbucks buying fuel for J. People in San Diego are on their best behavior, showing genuine compassion when J tells people that her home isn’t in the fire zone but remains evacuated and thus well within the looting zone.

People in Orange County Fairgrounds, evacuated from the surrounding mountains are receiving neither the media attention nor the kindness of strangers: they’re without everything except bottled water and baby diapers. It’s hard to be clever or philosophical about all this right now. There’s the same sense of exhaustion in people that I see in my parched back yard.

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