Saturday, October 18, 2008

Keeping Calm with Crochet

Some people think of October as fall, but in Southern California it’s fire season. The Santa Ana winds come in and blow at huge speeds and the humidity goes to nothing. That’s exactly what happened last Sunday. The only difference was it was a cold wind. A fire started in the wilderness area of the San Gabriel mountains and the wind began to spread it toward homes around the northeast area of the San Fernando Valley.

Monday morning the wind was even worse. It grabbed a heavy outdoor umbrella I’d folded down and sent it crashing into the lime tree. The winds always stir up trouble. There was even a news story about how in the past, that if you could prove there were Santa Anas blowing when you committed a crime, you could get off. Kind of the wind made me do it, I guess. For sure the wind makes everyone uneasy. I have heard that these dry powerful winds stir up the wrong kind of ions. The opposite of the good ones you feel by the ocean or a waterfall.

Palm fronds broke off the tall palm tree in the front yard and bounced off the roof into the backyard. Dust and debris mixed with ash from the fire and spread over the outdoor furniture. The air had the pungent smell of smoke and had an odd cast to it.

Another fire had started. This time much closer, directly north of us in an area called Porter Ranch. I know the area exactly. It’s on a ridge above the Valley floor and where my Joann’s superstore is. There are lots of newer houses surrounded by the brush covered Santa Susanna mountains.

All the regular TV shows were pre empted and I sat glued to the TV, watching as reporters in yellow fireman coats and goggles tried to interview people being evacuated from their homes. A lot of the people were dressed in work attire and had rushed home when they heard about the fire to get their pets, pictures and papers.

The wind was ferocious, sending burning embers everywhere spreading the fire. It jumped six lanes of the 118 freeway and the fire officials started talking about not being able to stop it and that it might burn all the way to the ocean some 20 or so miles away.

We weren’t directly threatened, though when the wind is like that you never know what will happen. I had a headache and was tense. There was only one thing that got me through the day.


I had started making a scarf from a pattern I’d seen in a magazine. The sport weight yarn was nice to work with and the pattern simple to follow. As I sat glued to the TV, I moved through row after row of the scarf.

There were warnings that the wind was going to get worse overnight, but luckily that never materialized and it actually died down, so they were able to do water drops from helicopters all night. By morning the firefighters had begun to get some control.
I went up to Joann’s Super Store on Friday and passed only one fire truck, but a lot of burned hillsides. I drove on the freeway that the fire had jumped. The people evacuated are back in their homes. There were some homes lost, but luckily fewer than first reported.

When leaves turn red in Southern California, it’s because they’re on fire.


Monica Ferris said...

Wow, what a vivid report! Good writing, scary subject. Hope you remain okay. But why don't you move to, say, Minnesota? Our leaves are red right now, too, and not because they're on fire.

Terri Thayer said...

Glad you're okay, Betty. I was thinking of you, but didn't realize how close the fires got. We lived for a month this summer with dark skies because of fires in the mountains and up north. No fun.

No dice, Monica. Betty and I both hail from colder climes, and wouldn't go back. Beats shoveling snow. Or maybe that's just me!

Camille Minichino said...

I hope you'll save the wonderful description for a story, Betty -- you put us right there. Glad it has a happy ending.

Betty Hechtman said...

I periodically think about living somewhere else. I love Chicago, but when I'm there in the winter and you practically have to put on a parka to take out the trash, I am always so relieved to come back to sunny L.A. even with all the problems.

My son and I often go walking in the mountains behind our house and it is so beautiful and amazing that we are in the middle of wildnerness, but only five minutes from a Starbucks. It would be hard to give that up.

pwl said...

It must have been frightening, and it makes me so thankful for living where we do. But you're right about crocheting. It centres me - enough that I can sit through a movie (on television) - or a program - without the constant need to be up and doing something. And it's such a wonderful feeling to watch something growing from your work.