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Unusual times, remarkable places

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

24 October 2007

Out of the frying pan, into the fire

We left New Orleans because my husband did not ever want to fix a flooded house again in his life.

Now we find ourselves surrounded by another disaster, one even bigger than the breaking of the levees: an inferno consuming much of Southern California. When I look at the newspaper’s map of the fires, I see that the areas north, west, and south of our town are burning.

We have been spared. But the beautiful stark hills we see from every window of our house have taken on an ominous aspect. Dotted with dead brush, they are ripe for burning. The Santa Ana winds roared through here Sunday and Monday, ripping all the shingles off our garden shed and tearing shrubs out of the ground. They left our hills untouched.

We smell the smoke and see the gray haze. I scan the hills periodically for signs of flames.

Even living through the Katrina experience, I never could get my mind around the whole of it. Too many people were affected, too many square miles. These fires are even harder to grasp. One million refugees? Can it be true? What will happen to them?

I do know that these people are worse off than we Katrina refugees were. Most flooded houses could be repaired, and in most cases second floors and their contents were spared. This week’s fire victims have lost nearly everything. Even if the firefighters put out a fire in time to save a house, the water from the hoses likely destroyed everything inside.

At times like this, I wish I were religious so I could yell at God.

fire photo copyright Ernest von Rosen,
other photos copyright 2007 Shauna S. Roberts


Sphinx Ink said...

Shauna, I am sending good vibes your way in hope the fires will avoid your town. Good luck.

Charles Gramlich said...

Wow. Yes, I would rather have the flood than the fires. Fires are so frightening. I wish you luck and all those who have lost their homes. Disasters seem to pile upon diasters.

Shauna Roberts said...

SPHINX INK and CHARLES, thanks for your good wishes. We may need them after all—the wind has shifted and is now blowing from the fires towards us and instead of away. Luckily, it's now a light breeze instead of the 40 mph winds of earlier in the week. The sky is grey with smoke, and some peaks are no longer visible.

I hope both of you made out okay in the heavy rain on Monday.

Bernita said...

One learns it.

Shauna Roberts said...

The learning of dread is easier than the unlearning, I think, BERNITA. That was one lesson of Katrina.

Carleen Brice said...

Oh Shauna. Thinking of you. Hope you're well.

Sidney said...

The Santa Ana winds always seem to romantic if Philip Marlowe stories. I've been sorry to hear of all the damage. I hope it's all over soon.

Lisa said...

I am thinking of you and hope things are under control soon.

Shauna Roberts said...

Thank you, everyone, for your well wishes. The latest reports are that they have the fire near us mostly under control and may have it out by the weekend. So we seem to be safe.