April 14, 2012 Dear Julia, Happy birthday, my love! Today…
AN UNUSUAL SUNDAY AFTERNOON
Upon awakening this morning we felt and heard the vicious winds whipped up against the side of our house, as well as the trees bending and straining against the winds — news reports clocked the winds at around 50 mph throughout Southern California.
This was of interest to, but we were not alarmed. I went to a restaurant, ate breakfast, read the newspaper, and sat down to write. The usual early Sunday afternoon routine.
By noon there was a very distinct smell of fire in the air. This is not unusual for this type of weather with the Santa Ana winds and hot, dry conditions. There is a fire somewhere. Okay.
By one in the afternoon the sky had turned orange and I had become alarmed. It was as if the light falling to earth was put through an orange-colored filter, and the sun was a raging red orb. This was all a result of fires raging throughout Southern California. There was a major fire threatening Malibu to the south, and fires closer to home: to the east in the wide Castaic/Piru region, and one to the south between Moorpark and Camarillo in the Santa Rosa Valley area. Smoke from those fires grew denser by the hour.
By two in the afternoon the smoke was much thicker still. The smoke had resulted in skies so darkened that everyone had turned their lights on as if it were evening. When walking outside and facing the fierce wind, my eyes stung and watered. I would turn my head away from the wind to protect them from the smoke.
The forecast was that the wind would not die down for another two days. The winds blew this smoke straight towards us, and this was going to continue for awhile. Did I want my baby daughter breathing this air?
No. I was to be up in the Bay Area Tuesday evening, and I decided to get there a bit earlier than planned. We packed up the car and left.