Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Fire, Cont'd.

A Real First-Hand Report from Carly

Meditation has many uses. One is to remain calm in danger. Terrors glance off. I never was one to panic, though.

While watching the huge LA brush fire late yesterday, the wind shifted directly for us. When the fire started down the next hill, things turned for the worse. Loudspeakers in the street were blaring, "LAPD, It is mandatory you exit your homes." My wife grabbed the dog, a few things and took off in one of the cars. As she did, embers were falling in the yard. Strong winds were pushing the fire toward us, fast. I climbed to the roof with two large buckets and my yard hoses linked together, filled the buckets, and began spraying the dry trees near the house.

By this time the fire was at the perimeter of Griffith Park, two streets downhill from me. The firefighters there were hosing everything with water cannons. Wimpy water hose in hand, I was facing a wall of red smoke and flames forty to eighty feet high, less than two streets away, while dodging helicopter searchlights looking for guys like me. I was really in no danger, except, I could fall while struggling with hoses. I was even admiring the beauty and strength of the fire, when I spotted a puff of smoke in my neighbor's lot, about sixty feet away in heavy dry brush and green ivy.

My heart started pumping abnormally. Adrenalin. Off the roof, hoses re-routed, through the gate of an adjacent yard, and over a fence, trampling around in heavy ivy ground cover, I came close to a small ember fire just as it flared. I looked at the two dry pines in a straight line between the sinister little fire and my house.

The fire was small but resistant, like it didn't want to die. I was restricted by the fence, and the embers were sparking off to a wider area in the big ivy leaves. It took ten minutes of dousing while I wondered, "why won't this fire go out?" Finally, there was only a black spot, lit by the red sky, four feet in diameter, of wet ash. Utter relief turned to paranoia, as I wondered where else are embers lurking.

Meanwhile the giant red flames were moving quickly downhill, toward other guys standing out there, impotently, with their tiny water hoses, I supposed. The hills were all aglow with a smoldering, interlaced red patchwork of subterranean fire, like hell had surfaced. I gazed in meditation at the unreal scene, which was real. Never listen to those who say everything is an illusion, I thought. Nature is not. It's predictable. It's in your face. Throw a cigarette in the woods, and energy will flow ceaselessly with the wind.

Dawn. The hills are black and bare, but, it's spring. They will come alive again, with certainty. The dead brush is all gone. Ash is great fertilizer. The Pine Grove, my meditation spot, looks like it survived on the hill over there. The wind bypassed it. A layer of ash coats everything, but there are many more birds in the yard today.


Mark said...

Wow. That's really...surreal is the world I'll use.

By the way, I started Ishmael today. I suppose I'm in for an existential crisis. It's good so far. Thanks for the suggestion.

PeterAtLarge said...

Enjoy Ishmael Mark! Cheers, PaL