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Back to normal

We’re beginning to pull ourselves back together here in San Diego after a very long, nerve-jangling week. For those of us who live a reasonable distance from last week’s fires, life has gotten back to normal pretty quickly. Students have returned to school, and Qualcomm stadium, which served as the county’s largest evacuation center, is back to hosting football games. In my neighborhood, folks are brushing a little ash off their Halloween pumpkins, washing their cars, and enjoying a cool autumn breeze.

In a way, it’s too bad that we’ve regained our equilibrium quite so quickly. Don’t get me wrong: I’m thrilled the fires are nearly contained and that people have been able to return to their homes! But there is something precious about the moments when a disaster is unfolding, when everyone seems to rise to the occasion and show their best selves. For days it seemed, last week, no one in San Diego had a bad word to say about anyone else. But today, that part of life has returned to normal, too. People are taking the opportunity to pat themselves on the back for all the good works they did down at Qualcomm, while simultaneously taking the opportunity to complain about the “opportunistic homeless deadbeats” who took advantage of the free food by posing as evacuees. On the other end of the spectrum are the growls about all those self-serving local politicos who scrambled for photo-ops with visiting dignitaries (mostly with governor Arnie, not so much the president).

And Mercury retrograde continues to work its mischief, too. Jonny volunteered for an information hotline over the weekend and on Saturday night they began receiving calls from residents of a community very close to an evacuation area. The callers were alarmed because they were smelling smoke and they thought the fires had reignited. But as it happens, it was just that the winds that blew smoke and ash out over the Pacific last week have done a 180, and the air that’s blowing back toward us smells exactly like a fireplace after you’ve doused it with water.

As one reader noted at the end of one of my recent blog entries about the fires, these fires began with Mercury retrograde at the same degree it occupied at the beginning of the last big firestorm in 2003. She didn’t feel we’d learned much from that previous disaster, and in many ways – the county’s overdevelopment, in particular – I agree. But in terms of handling the crisis, the county seems to have pulled through pretty well, all things considered. So is it really too much to hope that, just for a brief while, maybe, the screeching heads on the radio and tv could set aside their squabbling and savor the gratitude and kindness of those days? Do the winds of discourse have to change back to their old direction, blowing fetid, nasty, acrid-smelling invective with them?

So what I would like to say is, simply, thank you. Thank you to the firefighters who were the true heroes of this ordeal, some of them working literally for days at a time with no sleep at all. Thank you to the county, state, and federal officials who pulled together, however imperfectly, whatever their motivation, to minimize the loss of life and danger to property. Thank you to all of my neighbors who manned hotlines, who looked after displaced animals, and made sure folks who’d left their homes in the dead of night at least had a cot to sleep on and something to eat for breakfast. And thanks to my sensitive and compassionate faraway friends and readers who took the time to write and express their concern. I’m just fine, but there are a lot of people in this county who are suffering, so please send them your thoughts and love.

3 comments to " Back to normal "

  • p&pp

    I’m so glad you’re ok! Thanks for the update.

  • I don’t know if I told you, but Anthony Louis recently did a free horary reading for me. When I tried to pay him, he asked me to donate to a charity. I’m thinking there’s probably one or several for victims of the fires, yes?

    I’m so glad they were able to contain the fires as well as they did, all things considered. On NPR, they interviewed a guy who’d not lost his house yet all his neighbors did — apparently in good part due to the fact that he’d cleared out all the inappropriate vegetation around his home. But there he was, watering down his neighbor’s roof, trying to save it.
    I think there was an enormous amount of heroism that good people tend to downplay in themselves.

    And, of course, I’m glad you’re okay! 😀

  • I am so glad you are ok!

    The fires looked so scary and unreal on the TV!

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