Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Greetings from Los Angeles, where fire season is officially underway. It's about 80 degrees here today, unless you happen to live within the vicinity of Griffith Park, which is ON FIRE. The fire, which started yesterday at around 1:30 in the afternoon, has snarled traffic in the area and deposited great quantities of ash in my backyard and all over my car. Yesterday evening, as Viva and I were returning home (a 5 mile trip that took 45 minutes), you could see a gigantic dark plume of smoke churning just behind the Griffith Park Observatory. Have I mentioned that I live a mere stone's throw from the park? Whee, good times.

Fortunately, no lives have been lost, although one man was reportedly badly burned in the blaze. My grandmother, who lives 45 miles north of me, called me at work today to tell me in her inimitable way that she had been "follerin' the fire" on TV and that they were evacuating my neighborhood. This was news to me, and to my elderly next-door neighbor, who I called immediately. "But the sky is blue!" she protested, popping outside to look. "There's no smoke!" The evacuations actually happened last night, and at last report, people were being allowed to return to their homes today. I guess Grandma was a little late to the party.

Viva was intrigued by the fire, if a little disturbed that our favorite hiking area was being burned to a crisp (and by inference, all the animals that reside therein - On a related note, the L.A. Zoo miraculously escaped unscathed). When she got up this morning, she said, "Is the fire out?" When I told her that it wasn't, she insisted she must watch the news. Then she muttered something about the stock market, but I didn't quite catch it.

We did have a wonderful teaching moment while in the car on the interminable ride to school (again, 45 minutes to go 5 miles, thanks to the freeway and street closures): Viva asked what had started the fire. "They say it was a cigarette," I said.

"A what?" Viva said.

"Cig – a – rette," I said. "He was smoking. This is another reason why you should never take up smoking."

"Nobody should ever have a shug-a-rette," Viva said stoutly.

Words to live by, my friends.

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