In some places, autumn means frosty mornings, pumpkins in the fields and a riot of color in the trees. In Southern California, it means the smell of a million barbecues as your house burns to the ground.
Remind me again why people move here?
With the closest fire about 15 miles away, G and I aren't in any danger (although you could probably make a case that everyone is in danger when the weather is like this, since all it takes is one wind-toppled power line to touch off an inferno), but some of my co-workers live close enough to see the flames from their homes. Even at this distance, the sky is full of a reddish haze that looks the way I imagine the air on Mars would look, and everything reeks of smoke. It makes your eyes sting and your lungs hurt if you're outside too long. All the kids at G's school had to stay in the cafeteria at lunchtime and watch movies because the air quality was too bad for them to go out and play. I haven't seen any ash-fall yet, but I think that's only because the wind is blowing it away from us right now; the air could be full of it by morning.
Poor G got frightened and cried in class when her teacher talked about the fires -- she thought they were closer to home than they were, and that our cats were going to be burnt up. She's worried for the animals at the San Diego Zoo, too. I told her that the zookeepers are moving the animals to safe places, and that I would follow the news reports and come to get her and Catherine and Malcolm immediately if it even looked like a fire was approaching our house. I don't think it made her feel much better, though.
Her worry did make me realize that I probably ought to get a second cat carrier -- we only have one, and if we ever had to evacuate for some reason, I wouldn't want to have to stuff two scared, struggling full-grown cats into it together. It's bad enough just getting one of them in there for a trip to the vet. Hopefully we'll never come to that, but it's too easy to read the news reports and imagine yourself in the evacuees' shoes. I don't think I'd even try to save anything in that situation -- just grab G and the pets and go. I'd hate to leave irreplaceable items like our photos and P's clothes, but even those aren't worth risking our lives for. Nothing is.