Posted on June 30, 2008 by Nik

Big Sur Burning

The sky is pressing broad and low over the oak green ridges to the East.
An ominous cloud glowers bruisey yellow, diffuse morning light.
Ash is falling like snow, gracefully, nonchalantly.
And the sounds of bird song and the big low drone of choppers drift through the smoke filled valleys.
Big Sur is burning and the hive is all a buzz. Light pours over the heavy limbs of the Madrones, like amber autumn honey. A hazy other world light through a tinted lens.
Fuck I love this place. Earth.

We’re all packed, nose out and ready to roll if the fire line on the North front approaches the top of the Canyon and the evacuation Advisory shifts to Mandatory. Got my passport, laptop, tea pot and flute. Wife has cat, dog, bellydance gear and photos. The rest can burn if needs be.

After a week of bone drying heat, the storm cells appeared out of nowhere and struck like the dark hand of God all across this Western edge. A preternatural act of nature, purging, cleansing, rebalancing in spite of human resistance to the inevitable. This is a fire ecology of course and while we suppress and cling to stuff and place and time – time, sagebrush and phytophthora build the fuel for the cleansing act.

The sheriff drove all the way to the scattered ends of our dirt roads yesterday morning to issue our Evacuation advisories, and neighbours and fire-fighting friends called to say, it’s time to take it seriously. An adrenalin and caffeine fuelled day of packing and landscape clearance that should have taken a year, ended sitting on the roof with the sprinklers raining on, watching the fiery sun set over a rippled, fog cloaked ocean below, and smoking hills behind us – Atlanta (the dog) at the eaves, perplexed and Kali (the destroyer cat) curled inside in zen like repose, catflap locked.

Whilst friends have already lost their homes a few mile South, the winds were favourable over night here, and today, life’s on hold while we await word from the front lines and my body hurts like it just did a year of heavy chainsaw wielding, tree climbing, brush clearing in a day.

Though the (4 T1) lines that give us web access appear to be bogged down with electric flurries of activity in our scattered canyon community, we remain hungry for live maps and news updates and the “neighbours” list has found new purpose.

All hail the fire fighters – true and honourable warriors.

Meanwhile, the house looks like a whirlwind just tore through it, so what else to do, but water the bletilla and the bamboo, get back on the roof and play my flute while the blue jays look askance, and we’ll just wait to see which way the wind blows.

And when the burn is over and the rains come and wash out our roads, and the wild flowers bloom in orgiastic splendour, in celebration of life’s relentless renewal, the cycle will begin again…

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