Wednesday, August 8, 2007

You can't cook in the same fire twice--Heraclitus (Oh, really?)

In most parts of town, there is a thin coating of ash that resembles large flakes of dandruff. From about six-thirty until dark, the sun gave off a dark ocher glow instead of its usual yellow cast. Car washes are busy, the mid-week lines extending beyond the sidewalk.

A recent, authoritative report read thusly:

1) The Zaca Fire is 3 miles from the Santa Ynez River and another 2 miles from Camino Cielo Ridge. For those of you who may not know, Camino Cielo Ridge is the ridge of the mountains that we can all see from State Street, Hollister Avenue, the 101 Freeway – i.e. from almost anywhere in town. This means that the fire as of Monday evening was o
nly 5 miles away from our line of vision.
2) The major power source for all of Santa Barbara, Goleta and Montecito lies between the Santa Ynez River and Camino Cielo Ridge. If the fire jumps the river, there is a very high p
robability that we will all end up without power.
3) There are three major lines of defense against the fire – at the edge of the fire itself, at the Santa Ynez River, and at Camino Cielo Ridge.
4) All day Monday and Tuesday of this week, fire trucks and equipment will be moving into the area from around the state to help fight the fire. You may see them as they drive around getting to know the area, looking for the best strategies and lines of defense for the town should the fire get to the ridge.

Life goes on even as we take the time on occasion to look up at the ridge. Mornings and evenings are grayed down with the ebb and flow of a dampening marine layer. Organic watermelon are on sale. Lemonade stands in affluent areas compete for customers with price wa
rs, offers of cookies, and at one stand, free avocados. Enterprising students offer car and dog washes at the Unocal on Coast Village Road and Olive Mill Road.

The manager of the variety store on Milpas, just above Scolari's Market, once agai
n changes the display of pinatas, making this a place to be watched with some regularity.

A stream of people storm into the police station on Figueroa, just before Garden Street, variously wanting to pay parking tickets, complain about having been given parking tickets, wanting restraining orders enforced, wanting some semblance of justice in a world they sense has turne
d on them with full bureaucratic eclat.

A little girl knows what to do when adults in police stations become involved in the machinations of justice. She has a cell phone with built-in games. Just the thing for a police station lobby on a sticky, humid, dandruffy day where a fire demands attention.

Was this what it was like at Pompeii or Krakatoa?

Another local message says:

Here’s what’s most important to know: If the fire gets to the Santa Ynez River, an “evacuation warning” will be issued and everyone will be urged to start taking measures to leave town. The fire department does not want everyone waiting until the last minute to pack up their valuables and start heading out of town. If the fire gets to Camino Cielo Ridge, an “evacuation order” will be issued and people will have 6 HOURS to “get out of Dodge”. The Police will start canvassing neighborhoods with loud speakers and everyone had better pay attention, because the fire department doesn’t want anyone but themselves and the police left in town when the fire gets to the bottom of that ridge. The fire is too wide and too intense. They don’t want to be worrying about saving lives while they are also worrying about saving the town’s structures.

Cota Street is being repaved from Alameda Padre Serra, where it either begins or ends, down to Milpas, where it either begins or ends. Northbound 101 is loaded with incoming tourists, their back panels showing less inclination to support our troops and more inclination to cast out the incumbent administration.

Albertson's Market is having a special on wild salmon and fresh red snapper. The Santa Barbara Bowl is pleased to welcome Diana Kraal. The entry way to the Montecito Y is being rebuilt.

We are a known terrain for earthquake and fire.

Life advances warily, and the little girl in the police station has, for the moment, an answer.