WHAT THE HELL

Kevin Brennan Is Self-Publishing His New Novel

Hot fun in the summertime

Fire

We live at the arrow!

Strange feeling, to know that just six miles away there’s a 2500 3200 acre wildfire rampaging through the dry forest along the Middle Fork of the American River. We’re not in danger, but the fire’s presence is obvious in the veil of smoke hanging in the air, and in the frequent rumble of tanker planes overhead as they bank around to drop load after load of fire retardant.

And even though we know we’re not in danger, thanks to the prevailing winds and the remoteness of the canyons that are burning, we’re touched by a peculiar anxiety. You start to imagine the what ifs. You picture yourself packing up a few things to evacuate, dreading that coming-home scene where you find a black wasteland where your house used to stand.

It’s not going to happen this time, you tell yourself, but what about next time? And, in the night, when you smell the smoke seeping through the closed windows, your mind tricks you into thinking this could be the next time.

This is the closest we’ve ever been to a big fire. Californians know it happens, and they know someone loses everything each time one strikes. And each time you dodge one of these fierce metaphors, you count up your blessings and learn to take nothing for granted.

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17 comments on “Hot fun in the summertime

  1. kingmidget
    July 2, 2016

    I was wondering if the fire was anywhere near you. Six miles is close enough.

    This is one of those things that is always in the back of my head as I ponder where I might re-locate to once I retire. My preference is somewhere along the coast, but occasionally I think of places in the foothills. And then I think of fires. And I think that may, just maybe I won’t be moving.

    Stay safe.

    • Kevin Brennan
      July 2, 2016

      Funny, because we came up from the coast to be here! This area is definitely more affordable, but then again … FIRE! Of course, down there … EARTHQUAKES! I guess you gotta pick your poison.

      • Audrey Driscoll
        July 2, 2016

        Exactly! Here on Vancouver Island we are always aware that the Big One is overdue. And with an earthquake you get no warning at all. But this year we’ve had the Fort McMurray fire in Alberta, so things look good here by contrast. I hope the fire near you does not develop into a real threat.

      • Kevin Brennan
        July 3, 2016

        Yes, that Alberta fire was horrible. The same kind of thing here would take out thousands of homes …

      • Audrey Driscoll
        July 3, 2016

        I certainly hope it doesn’t happen.

  2. Woebegone but Hopeful
    July 2, 2016

    Take care, hope it all stays safe for you.

    • Kevin Brennan
      July 2, 2016

      Thanks, WBH! So far so good, but I’m keeping a close eye on that plume.

      • pinklightsabre
        July 3, 2016

        How could you not keep a close eye on it? Even those with the most basic imaginations would have to think deeply about that.

      • Kevin Brennan
        July 3, 2016

        Plus, it won’t let you not think about it! You walk outside and it goes, “Hey. ‘Member me?”

      • pinklightsabre
        July 3, 2016

        I love your comfort with double negatives. It’s like playing with numb chucks and not hitting yourself in the nose.

  3. S.K. Nicholls
    July 2, 2016

    At least you don’t have hurricanes. We lost a house and a boat to a Hurricane Charley. Yes, we rebuilt and bought another boat…but here is a really weird feeling when you’re watching the weather channel and see the eye of a hurricane move over your house. Plus being without air-conditioning and hot water in Florida for nine days is pretty awful. Call me spoiled.

    • Kevin Brennan
      July 3, 2016

      Yeah, I don’t think I’d do well in a hurricane zone. Though with an earthquake, you don’t know it’s coming …

      Glad you guys were able to rebuild. What a mess!

      • S.K. Nicholls
        July 3, 2016

        Yeah. Wish we still had that house, but alas financial difficulties after my husband’s divorce resulted in losing it. It was waterfront in Charlotte Harbor with a nice dock for the boat. We’d really like to settle closer to Sarasota when hubby retires. We’re pretty well set to do that now. Everything happens for a reason.

  4. 1WriteWay
    July 4, 2016

    I was going to write that I’ll take an earthquake over fires or hurricanes any day … saying this after having weathered (pun intended) the 1989 Loma Prieta quake. We were both in San Francisco then, living on 9th and Irving. I remember as I walked home from the bus stop, seeing cracks in the foundations on every other block. Our apartment was a mess and it was a good thing we weren’t there. Later we watched the fire in the Marina District from our rooftop. So, unfortunately, fires and earthquakes will go together. I was ready to leave right then and there, even though after 10+ years I had already ridden a number of small quakes and aftershocks. Now, after 25 years living in Florida, I’d like to escape the stress of anticipating hurricanes. Granted, living where we do, the most we ever get is heavy wind and rain, nothing that we can’t survive by just staying home and off the roads.
    But now, after thinking a bit more on this, I’m reconsidering my feelings about earthquakes: at least with fires and hurricanes, you can have enough notice to get you and your loved ones (including the furry, four-legged kind) the hell out of there. Well, providing you have the $$ and flexibility to do so (always a catch). In 1989, a friend of mine had to spend the night (maybe it was two) in her office in SF because she couldn’t get back to her home in Berkeley. Greg and I weren’t together when the quake struck so there was considerable anxiety until we were both able to get home. And then sit in the dark, listening to the radio and people talking as if it were the end of time. I don’t know where anyone can live now where there isn’t some danger of a natural disaster, whether it be earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards. I guess we have no choice but to pick our poison and hope for the best. And I have been thinking about you and yours and hope you all stay out of danger. Six miles is indeed too close …

    • Kevin Brennan
      July 4, 2016

      Thanks for the well wishes, Marie. They’re saying they’ll probably have the fire contained on Wednesday, but it’ll have been a tense week!

      My wife lived in the Marina when Loma P. happened. Her apt. got condemned, and she was staying with people in the Inner Sunset and tells me she and they were always hanging around 9th & Irving. You might have passed each other on the street!

      I’m not sure which poison I’d prefer, but since I live where I live, I guess I’ve opted out of hurricanes, at least. I bet, dollar for dollar, they’re more destructive than most other disasters …

      Hope you’re having a happy 4th!

      • 1WriteWay
        July 4, 2016

        Small world! I wouldn’t be surprised if we had past each other. We were often out and about since there were plenty of good inexpensive eateries back then.
        The effects of hurricanes can last a very long time, as Susan was describing, ruining homes as well as contaminating water supplies and taking out utilities. The next big hurricane will probably ruin this state because nobody will be prepared for it. The last major hurricanes were ten years ago and the population has grown since then. Unfortunately we’ll probably still be living here …

      • 1WriteWay
        July 4, 2016

        And I do hope they’ll have the fire contained soon. I can’t imagine the stress you’re under.

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