I wrote about our local wildfire this morning. The fire was put out, so huzzah! Some homes destroyed…
I went on with my normal life for about an hour. I then turned back to netborhoods for fire updates and experienced heavy shock.
The fire had spread north. Going from less than a hundred acres, it was now over a thousand acres. While the wind had dissipated in our area, it stayed strong elsewhere. Pushed by the wind, the fire was spreading along the Interstate 5 corridor on the southern side.
Highways were being closed. Smoke filled the air…north of us. Neighborhoods, businesses, hemp farms, and wineries were evacuated. School classes were canceled.
Tuning in to other news revealed that numerous other fires were burning fast in southern Oregon, forcing evacuations, closing roads, destroying buildings, chasing wildlife. Central Point, Eagle Point, to the west, areas to the northeast two hours away.
Sifting through the news, I realized how fortunate we’d been. The fire started about three and a half miles away. A fortunate wind saved us, to the detriment of others.
The wind is still out there, though. All of Jackson County is at level one: be ready to go.
I packed some things in the car, just in case. Fickle winds can’t be trusted.
Nothing to see here. Just some first world venting blended with some humbrag complaining.
My writing concentration today has come like a reluctant child who’s itching to leave as soon as possible. I blame events, beginning with yesterday.
Yesterday was another hot one. Not a scorcher, it reached 99. It’s a scorcher when it goes over one hundred. Night temps had gone down to the mid-sixties the night before, enabling us to open windows and cool the house at night in the morning before buttoning up and enduring the day.
The temp was slow in dropping, though, still at 86 at 9:30 PM and 84 in the house. The office, where we read, surf the net, and watch our telly, was the hottest room, at 87. We, being staunch supporters of the church of miserly spending, eschewed the air con and just turned on a fan. Finally, though, I did a skin test. Walking outside and then returning in to feel the difference, I decreed it felt cooler outside, so I opened up windows for a welcome breeze.
Thirty minutes later, a strong wood smoke scent russhed in. “Winds must have shifted,” I said, mostly to myself. My wife was doing a puzzle and didn’t acknowledge my comment. The cats heard me, but I’d not mentioned food, so they were already on to staring at one another again, in case one of them tried something. I hoped that shifting winds was the source, even as I worried. We have several smaller fires burning within twenty-five miles. Sometimes, though, California wildfire smoke follows I5 up through the pass and down into our valley.
This smoke was worryingly strong. I closed the windows, muttering curses as I did. Going outside, the smell hit me like a broom to the face. Going back in, I said, “Wow, that smoke is really strong. You should check it out.” Worrying about new fires and evacuation, I hunkered down on the net.
Yes, the AQI had skyrocketed from around a pleasant and green twenty-five to a red, unhealthy one fifty-seven.
Nothing from the city nor the fire department, but others on our local nets were wondering and worrying, too. In the fire department’s opinion, the smoke was coming from the 350 acre Grizzly Creek fire that firefighters have been battling.
Yet, they had noticed the smoke — and now there was falling ash. “There aren’t any reports of new fires,” the fire department said. “But if you see some flames, call us.”
Well, sure as shit, we will.
Responding to my comments, my wife went outside. Returning with wide eyes, she said, “It’s terrible out there. The smoke is really thick at the bottom of the hill.”
I went out to check again. The smoke was worse than before.
Nothing to do about it but grit our teeth and stay vigilant, my wife and I told each other and the cats, retiring to our evening routines. It was midnight. She went to bed to read while I stayed up watching telly and checking the net for new local fire news. The cats asked to go out. “No, dummies, it’s too smoky. You’ll ruin your lungs.”
Later, in bed, the wind was suddenly howling like a lonely beagle outside our window, beating up the trees, and punishing anything loose in the yard, knocking things around like a hyper cat expending energy. My wife whispered about her anxieties. I listened, wondering, is that the fence? The trash can was on the street because it was trash day. I worried about the can getting blown over, letting our contents flee on the wind.
6:30ish, I looked outside. The gray ashy sky made me gasp. Shit, to the ‘puter.
The net was down.
Verifying the trash can was upright and in place (and the fence was standing, and nothing was damaged), I reset the system. Walking around outside, the wind was still strong (forty mile an hour gusts was what I later read), shaking the trees and bushes. The cats were with me on the inspection round, but each time a sharp gust struck, the three headed back into the house floof haste
The net returned. Hallelujah. Eagerly I hunted news. It was there: a grass fire had sprung up in the city on the other end of town. With the winds, everyone was told to go to Level 1 and be prepared to leave. Those in the immediate area of the fire were issued immediate leave orders. I5, just a few hundred yards behind the fire, was shut down in both directions. The traffic cameras showed empty lanes southbound and double lines of idling traffic northbound.
Looking out the office toward the northwest part of town, I confirmed, yep, I see smoke.
Damn it. I reviewed checklists, supplies, and go bags. Which way to go. Well, north, of course, because south led to California, which was on fire. Except north required us to use I5. I5 was closed, and all of the town would be leaving on highway 99, a road that varies between two and four lanes and has multiple traffic lights. However, Highway 99 was also closed, just outside of town. Thus, we can’t go north.
A situation update arrived. People were returning to their homes. The city was issuing reassurances that nobody needed to evacuate the city. It looked like the interstate was being re-opened for travel. The wind faded away like…a dying wind. The sky is blue and smells fresh again, though the horizons are smudged.
Fire damages from the area are trickling in. We fared better than Malden, Washington, Colorado, California, and other places. No one was hurt. Yet, there are reports that another neighboring small town, Talent, had parts evacuated. The story continues.
I have my coffee. (It’s my second cup, if I’m honest, but why start now?) Time to settle down and write like crazy, at least one more time.
Floofhaste (floofinition) – Alt spellings: Floof haste, floof-haste. Focused, concentrated activity by an animal exercising all possible speed.
In use: “Wind whipped through the yard, sending the grill cover flying and launching the cats and dogs floofhaste into the house.”
I don’t know what woke me. The wind was imitating a full-throttled gas leaf blower outside the window, hammering the house walls with whatever it could find to fling (yeah, that’s how it sounded). One cat was on the bed, and the wife was restless.
I think, though, it was pain. I’d somehow rolled around while I slept, ending up with my mending arm and hand bent underneath my weight. The hand was crying, and was too stiff to straighten at all.
I massaged it and listened to the wind beating the world, wondering what it was doing to our garden, trash can, roof, and everything else. After a bit of that, I adjusted my hand in a safe space elevated on a pillow and settled back into sleeping mode.
The dream slyly crept in. Someone said, “Yes, we have the body before us. We can see the injuries and damages and know how to repair them. We are sending thousands of cosmic construction teams to the area.”
My wife tapped me awake. “It’s really scary outside. The wind is blowing hard and steady.”
“I know. I hear it.”
My Fitbit said, 5:25. I was miffed to be awakened and eager to return to sleep. The dream still had my thoughts entangled. I pictured the cosmic construction teams and their work. I imagined them with nano-sized machines up beside my bones, muscles, and joints. Hard hats on, they’re looking around and chatting, tapping their feet, arms crossed, assessing damages, deciding on a plan. Then the word is given and they go to work.
It was an amusing, yet wonderful and reassuring thought, that somewhere in me, cosmic construction teams are going to work.
A snake in a bag was included, and a cat, along with crystal stemware and stairs. Oh, and Matthew McConaughey. It ended with music.
I’d arrived, alone, at a large conference center, one of those mega places, part mall, part hotel and restaurants, and offices. A clean and busy place, I was there to do some work on my own.
Walking along the main corridor, I spotted a young woman in a large island shop. All glass, she had it fenced off on all sides, and the top. As I came closer, I realized it was because she had a black and white cat with her, and her arrangements were to keep the cat in.
I struck a benign conversation up with her and petted her cat, then continued on. Veering to one side, I entered a place loaded with tables. Finding an empty one, I unpacked my gear and set to work.
An attractive woman on one side began flirting with me. She was young, with blonde hair. An equally attractive young brunette woman on my other side then engaged me.
That put me on a high cloud, to be flirted with in that way. I reciprocated, then checked the time and decided I’d worked enough. Standing and packing my gear, I saw myself in a mirror. My appearance pleased me.
Saying bye to the women, I wondered around the bright, clean complex. Busy, nothing of interest drew my attention so I drifted back the other day.
A large canvas bag was thrown out in front of me. As I went around it, I realized it was holed, and then saw a large and angry snake was inside it. After watching for some seconds, I clarified that it was a large and angry rattlesnake, and it was trying to get out.
I worried about the young woman and her cat. Going to her, I told her about the snake. She decided she’d close and leave, to protect her cat.
I’d decided to leave. Shouldering my backpack with a glance back toward the bag with the snake (it may have escaped, I thought), I went down the stairs.
A stack of crystal stemware blocked the middle of the narrow staircase. Right and left of it were trays of dirty dishes.
It looked like dining tables had been bused, but they’d not taken the dirties away, which pissed me off. I turned around to report this to the receptionist, but she was on the phone.
Well, I wanted to leave. I carefully picked my way through the mess and made it without disturbing anything.
Free. I headed toward the exit.
Matthew McConaughey plowed into me. “Did you know that with one thin dime, you can be a free and wealthy man?”
I kept walking. Matthew was a friend, but I didn’t want to hear this now. “Get away from me, Matthew. I’m not interested.” He held up a dime.
“Not interested.” He walked with me. “I’m talking about a great opportunity. Do you have one thin dime, Michael?”
At that moment, I heard music on the loudspeaker and stopped. “Listen.”
“To what am I listening?” Matthew asked.
“The music. Recognize it?”
“I do not.”
“It sounds like the beginning of Deep Purple doing “Highway Star'” on their live album.”
“I don’t know it.”
Matthew’s response amazed me. “You don’t know it?”
The music began, and I was right about the song.
The dream ended.
A rough night culminated in late slumber that ended with a dream and music.
I’ve posted “Highway Star'” by Deep Purple here before, but it was in my dream, so I thought I’d stay with it. It was the live version from their Made in Japan album, 1972. I had that album and used to listen to it at ear-bleeding levels. It’s a damn intense, unrelenting song, an eruption of unapologetic rock, almost to such levels that it’s parody.
Here it is, the looonnng live version, fresh from ’72.