I wish I could get actually current local news.
I can read live reactions to the debates from bloggers around the country—heck, around the world, if I tried—but I can’t get any current information on the wildfire I can see from my bedroom window right now.
We’ve got Santa Ana winds this week—hot desert wind that cracks the skin on the back of your hands, dries out your sinuses and makes your nose run. Santa Anas also happen to be fire’s best friend, tossing sparks over fire breaks and flying embers to ignite every scrap of dry brush in the vicinity.
A fire broke out on Camp Pendleton—that’s the Marine Corps base in the north of San Diego County—around 3:30 this afternoon, and by seven p.m. had burned over a thousand acres. And that’s the most recent information I can find, though it’s four hours old and fires move quick.
We could smell the smoke before we could see it today. When the sun went down we could see reddened smoke and cloud cover from our backyard even though we’re a few suburbs to the south.
And now there are sirens. We live down the street from a fire station (really, doesn’t everyone in this county live right down the street from a fire station?), and they don’t usually run their sirens at night if they don’t have to. But tonight they’re wailing on and on, one after the other, presumably headed north to keep us safe from there. I’m sure all will be well by morning. (Or at least, that’s what I’d like to have happen. And it probably will.)
Last year, when the fires were close enough that we could see smoke, I was in early labor. I called my midwife, told her we expected to need her in the morning, and went to bed. And then we woke up to a brown sky raining ash, air too thick to breathe pressing in through the cracks around windows and doors.
The contractions stopped and didn’t return for five more days—the day we left our house with birth supplies and newborn clothes in tow, not knowing where we were headed or for how long; the days we spent in a rented vacation house; the day we came home to hose charred wood and burnt plastic off our lawn, then to launder every smoky blanket, sheet, and piece of clothing in the house before I collapsed into bed, exhausted and nauseated.
And then the next morning, though the sky was still a pale tan instead of blue, though the air still smelled mildly of burning brush, Sadie decide she had waited long enough. She was born after three hours of labor, with Dane and the kids, my mother, and four midwives ready to greet her here at home. She had some breathing difficulties, both right at first and over the next several days. We still put her to bed with an air purifier in the room.
Tonight she fell asleep easily, is sleeping soundly. Hasn’t called for more milk even once since I put her down. And while I’m on edge this fire season, I wonder if this weather feels familiar to her. Whether she’s oddly comforted by the dry heat, the woody smoke smell. For me, it brings back a sense memory of being that heavily pregnant mother, forced from her nest; for her, maybe it recalls our first meeting. I don’t suppose I’ll ever really know. But I wonder.