HAIBUN (The Gap Fire): Response to One Single Impression Prompt of 7/6/08
THE GAP FIRE
The odd light coming through my curtains prompts me to look out my window. I see what looks like a very light snow flurry and a sickly sort of glow. It’s ashes and the sun shining through dense smoke from the fire in the foothills above Goleta (California). After supper, from our residence dining room window I briefly see the flames shooting straight up from the mountain, then the smoke hides them again. Later when the electricity goes out, I groan at the thought of having to deal with my defrosting fridge, as a neighbor hunts down matches for us to light candles. Given I lived through 9/11 in New York city and countless black-outs there, I am surprised at how surreal it all feels.
matchless a wild fire looms on the mountain
I crank my friend’s emergency radio again and again, it’s whine too much like a sarcastic “hur-ray, hur-ray....” I try all stations, AM and FM. All we hear among the occasional burst of music is static and endless commercials, ordering us to buy this or that, right away.
candle flames flicker
the radio static resolves
into local news
The next evening the fire is still only 5% contained. The electricity goes out again, but comes back on, goes off, comes back on again. The "Gap Fire," as it is being called, is still spreading and there are more mandatory evacuations announced. I’m feeling a bit unnerved, but grateful to be living in a retirement community where folk check on each other, and the administration is organized and responsive.
white ash flakes falling shrouded foothills
The next day, I resist accepting a free box of face masks, but who knows where this is all going? And although I can't see it -- unless I try wiping it off something -- there's black sticky stuff mixed in with all the white ashes. So my lungs may thank me for wearing a mask if I decide to spend any amount of time outdoors. And it is a lovely day, though I feel very sad when I look up at the hills and see all the smoke.
jasmine leaves white
with the night's ashes
unopened face mask
On the next evening’s 6:00 pm news I hear the "Gap Fire" now has the top priority in the state due to its nearness to so many structures. We lose electricity briefly again and await the next probable outage, hoping a sundowner (wind) doesn't take the fire any further toward Santa Barbara than it already has. Earlier in the day, I’d checked on my friend’s beloved African jasmine again.
washing ashes off
the jasmine's leaves
pale orange sun
Friday evening I take a chance and use the elevator to save my complaining arthritic knees. Fewer and fewer ashes are falling. The fire is now said to be 25% contained. Someone jokes that we could all just have jumped in the pool here on the grounds if need had arisen. The 40 person limit wouldn't matter a whole lot at that point, for sure. And those of us with good knees could just jog the six blocks to the ocean anyway. I now have a little “kit” set up with my battery supply, small radio, flashlight, and face masks as this is only the start of a long tinder box summer.
smoke veils the foothills
to the northwest
The electricity stayed on all last night. This morning some of the mandatory evacuation orders have been lifted, though the fire is still only about a quarter contained. It was a cool night, with no sundowner. The skies are much clearer. One resident here is supervising massive planting and weeding work in her garden, and another is doing some much needed sidewalk sweeping.
off the bench cushion
* * * * * * * *
The prompt this week on ONE SINGLE IMPRESSION is “Through a window.” The above is a haibun that is still in draft form, about the California wild fire still burning in the foothills three and a half miles above Goleta where I just moved five months ago from New York city.
Please visit ONE SINGLE IMPRESSION to peek through the windows others offer this week.
‘til next time, keep dreaming,
**** [aka: Patricia Kelly] **** If you wish to copy or use any of my writing or poems, please email me for permission (under “View my complete profile”)****My other blogs: ROSWILA’S TAROT GALLERY & JOURNAL and ROSWILA’S TAIGA TAROT, and Yahoo DREAMJIN: Group for Dreamku – Haiku-Like Dream Poems ****