October 26, 2003

The fire has reached Crestline. It has consumed Waterman Canyon, and the beautiful pine forests of my childhood are going.

My family is safe, and for that I am thankful, but I am having a hard time being far away and knowing that the landscape of my memory is incinerated. The forests, the beautiful forests. The acres of daffodils hiding under pines. The secret creeks and singular oaks that only myself and my girls knew of.

My childhood home is threatened, and may be gone already – it was situated in a very sparsely populated, thickly forested part of the mountains. My family is safe. They are safe and away. They took the babies and the dogs and the pictures and mementos and fled when they closed the highways. I have a large family, hard to keep an eye on them all at once, but I spoke to my mother tonight and she said they were safe.

I told her to call if they gave an evacuation order, but she never did. I hope it is because they were just moving too fast.

I guess I took too much for granted that it would never change, that the place had been the same since my mother’s youth and would remain unaltered. I just can’t believe it. I can’t believe it’s all smoke and ashes.

I am thinking of my uncles, and my friends that are battling the fires. They are without resources, and the helicopters can’t drop enough water to deter the fire. I wish them safety. I would not complain about the loss of a house or the physical reminders of my growing-up if I thought they weren’t safe. They have done this many times before.

I know this has all happened before – several times in my lifetime. Just never so close. All that red in the sky is the remnants of homes and objects and trees. I just can’t believe this. I can’t believe I’m so far away.

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