Big Sur is my backyard, and it was hallucinatory to see it burning below me as my plane began its descent. These pictures were taken last Sunday from one of the puddle-jumper flights, on my way home from Vancouver, via LA. I am about 15-minute drive from the town of Big Sur. My schoolmates, Kirk and Erin Gafil (a painter), are the descendants of the people who established the renowned restaurant on a cliff, Nepenthe. During this time of the year, it's hard to get a table, but not this July. My friend, Bill, the ER doc, who lives in Big Sur must be one of the few remaining to treat the fire fighters--God bless them all.
(Steve Hauk wrote a blog on Big Sur.)
After writing about our beloved, hard-won home a couple of days ago, my imagination quickens to the danger. It's as if I can hear the explosion of the manzanita and coyote bushes as they combust just over a few hills from the Palo Corona ranch, which we see out our window every day. This is the worst fire in the 37 years I've lived on the Central Coast of California.
The Marble Cone fire was over 3 decades ago, when I hiked with Bobby and Tom Pollard on to private property to get a better view. We were chased for over an hour by helicopter, suspecting us to be firebugts. We hid in the madrones until the chopper gave up. When we finally decended from the mountain at dusk, we were miles from our car, covered in dirt and so thirsty, we were ready to drink from algae-infested cow troughs.
The wind has been blowing south, so we have not had the ash fall of last week, when our deck was covered in white. My friend with emphysema in Carmel Valley was having difficulty breathing. Friends and family need to make sure he gets through this summer of the inferno.
I've grown up with my parents' war stories and loss. I've outlived disasters of my own making. I am not young, so I do not think, "Oh, this disaster (fire, water, tornado, tsunami and disasters of other ilk) will never happen to me." If the destruction of home should be my fate, I hope God schedules it when I am relatively strong, not when I am too feeble to rebuild.
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