Tonight a fire burns in the Cajon Pass, not far (enough) from my home in Riverside. The chances of the flames reaching my door are somewhat slim, but still, the fear is real. Last year there was a fire in the riverbed of the Santa Ana, within walking distance of my house. It was a miracle someone wasn't killed or a home or two lost. I seem to remember and out-building did burn. It was tense for a while. And it is tense right now with what they are calling the Blue Cut Fire. I know people who live in some of the communities affected. The pass is closed. Commuters can't easily get home without long detours. Homes have burned. Evacuations are mandatory.
So I have to wonder why I stay here. I have to wonder why some many people stay here...and more come every day. It is somewhat beyond my comprehension. It is like we are all in a big crap shoot, betting against the odds, and if we are lucky, we come out intact on the other side. But why?
The weather is temperate, except for some extended periods in the summer when the heat rises so high you don't want to venture outside. And there are earthquakes, winds, floods and more. Yet we stay.
In the midwest they have floods, tornados, electric storms. Same in the south. In the northwest, they, too, have much the same kind of acts of nature as we have here. It seems no matter where you go, there is some type of risk of encountering the wrath of Mother Nature. It does make me wonder if maybe we are too busy trying to conquer and bend Nature's will to ours. Surely Nature naturally rebels. Not out of spite, but out of self defense. Just look what we have done to the Earth so far.
I've heard it said that here is southern California, we have no seasons. Yes, we have spring, summer, winter and fall, but those are definitely overshadowed by these other biggies: Fire Season, Earthquake Season, Flood Season and Santa Ana Season and our latest extended season of Draught. Each feed into each other. The fires burn the brush and vegetation necessary to hold back or absorb the waters of winter rains and melting mountain snow. Floods wash away the same vegetation and undergrowth along with the very earth and sand that we build our homes and businesses on. Then of course earthquakes come along and shake everything up, knocking things down and severing transportation arteries along with other destruction. Sometimes earthquakes cause fires. And the Santa Ana winds come along and stir everything up.
And so here I am, feeling a bit on edge, yet strangely secure, watching the flames rage on in the Cajon Pass about 25 to 30 miles from here. The residents know, as the newscasters say, to be ready to move at a moment's notice. Possessions, animals, other valuable. Always have a plan to pack up and run. And so I wonder, what if that fire, or another, sweeps into Riverside? Seems unlikely, but still... And yet I sit here, seeing the smoke of this latest (not so) distant fire, and keep my hands folded with no thought of moving out of So Cal. After all, it is home.