Monday, November 17, 2008

Make a Wish

It's fire season.

The Santa Ana winds aren't blowing very hard, but it is very warm - around 90 today. I have a work colleague here from back east and I was explaining to her this morning that it's fire weather and it would be hot. She was too busy staring out of the window. She pointed a shaky finger at a big black bird on the pathway light post about a foot from the window and said, "Is that a...vulture?"

I replied, "Yeah, it's a turkey vulture. Don't worry, they don't attack you unless you're dead. The other 20 in the flock are over there." I pointed out the rest of them, drying their wings on the lawn. You get used to the things. At work it's likel iving in a cartoonist's desert set with the rattlesnakes and opuntia and vultures.

Anyway, we sorted out what work she needed to do and I left her to it. About three o'clock a helicopter went over, too low to be commuting, and someone checked the CHP scanner. Sure enought, there's a fire on the 2 lane highway which is the only route past my work. It's at Milestone 12, we're at Milestone 10. That means the road would be closing at the first mile to anything coming our way and closing entirely at the other end.

I live at the Milestone 1 end, so there was still chance to get out in that direction. As I milled around bumping into myself in the sort of confusion you get into when you realize you haven't made any evacuation plans, three more fire calls came into the CHP *and* a reported vehicular accident, all on the same highway. I called up my colleague and said, "You remember I said it was fire season. (Hearty fake chuckle.) Well, there's a fire. The road will soon close and you might be trapped here all night?"

Sensible woman, she said she'd leave right away. I thought about it for five minutes and left myself. On the way back to Milestone 1 I passed 16 fire tenders coming the other way, and a couple of ambulances heading up towards, and hopefully two miles past, my workplace. It took me forty minutes instead of 20 to get home. But, IAM HOME, which is the main thing.

Of course I forgot to get her cell phone number, so I'll have to call every hotel in town, and let her know. "Say, er, if the company building still exists tomorrow, I'll see you there at 7 am.(Hearty fake chuckle.)"

Oh, the title of the post? The helicopter that we heard was dumping fire retardant ahead of the fire. As it came over our property and dipped lower, it blew all the fluffy seeds from the dandelions and similar plants up into a Ridleyscott of gossamer airfluff. My supervisor, who watched the helicopter fly over, said to me, "When you blow the seeds off a dandelion clock, you have to make a wish."

She has an unusual take on the mobilization of the emergency services, but not a bad one, I think.

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