This is the view that KNX is showing of the Los Angeles County fires mere minutes ago. It's accurate, because I am looking at the layer of dirty air above me. On the photograph, the spot marked closest to the ocean is the Malibu fire. The one almost perpendicularly north is the Stevenson Ranch fire, and that's the one I've got to keep an eye on, because its march to the sea could include Chatsworth where the Arabian Prince is in residence.
It's a bit like tornado weather around here, except there is no wet and the sky is brown instead of that sickly green that the mid-west gets as a storm approaches. Without the fires, I might even call it "Earthquake Weather," a phrase and title from Tim Power's work. "Earthquake Weather" doesn't usually have this kind of wind. It is warm and dry. The humidity is less than 10%. This is tinderbox time.
As I look out the window to the north, I can see blue sky between the cloudcast and the horizon, but just beyond the hills is black smoke from the fire to the north. Looking out the south window, it is evenly overcast, with the sun making the view a bit warmer than I would expect this time of the afternoon.
The air smells and tastes terrible. My throat hurts every time I take a deep breath. My eyes itch and weep. And I want to rip my skin off.
My friend Jack Dann arrived from Australia last night. He's beginning to think he brings these fires with him, because the last several trips he's made here have been in the Fall, and there were major fires--closer to us, in fact, than they are now. I could see flames from where I am sitting.
We deal with all of the four elements--or are they elementals?--in Southern California: earth, air, fire, and water in the forms of earthquake, wind, fire and floods. Fire and flood sort of alternate. I expect in moderation we would have neither or fewer of each.
That's the price you pay to live in Paradise.
Lunch with the Barefoot Contessa
2 years ago