It’s definitely summer in Southern California as evidenced by triple digit heat (115 the last two days) and the dreaded forest fires. Heading home from work on Friday, I spotted a pillar of smoke coming from Mill Creek Canyon, just a few miles up the road from home.
I could see that it was in an area I had hiked recently where I’d been alarmed at the number of dead trees, stacked like kindling. Flames were clearly visible at this distance, shooting up the steep canyon wall. A small blessing, at least it wasn’t windy. But of course, by late afternoon the breeze picked up and quickly stoked the fire into 1,000 acres. The next day, the winds were gale force and the fire fighting aircraft were grounded. The fire is in such steep terrain that hand crews are of no use. This morning, there were a few helicopters chopping their way up the valley but by noon they had given up. Our wilderness is being incinerated and we can only stand helplessly by and hope the wind subsides.
In the heat and smoke, Sally’s firstborn held a wedding celebration outdoors. The venue was just a few blocks from my house and within sight of the staging area where the firefighters were organizing their aerial attack on the fire. As luck would have it, the violent wind that churned up thunder clouds at 1:00, cooled the valley down to a comfortable 100 degrees by 4:00 and then kindly blew itself out.
This was one instance where I was grateful to be a woman of a certain age. While the young women tottered around the expansive grounds of the venue in spikey, strappy sandals and layers of lovely dresses, I wore a comfortable sundress with flat sandals and a straw hat, the only concession to decorum was an underwire bra and granny panties and truthfully, I considered skipping the panties. A lovely young girl sitting beside me, sweltering in a full-length velvet dress, described how long it had taken her to apply her flawless make-up. I commiserated with her admitting that it had taken me nearly fifteen minutes to complete my toilette. Actually, I think I said, “…to get this beautiful,” because she looked at me as if she could readily believe it.
Despite the heat, smoke, humidity, and underwire bra, it was a lovely ceremony. The young couple gave me every reason to believe in happily ever after. Both are college graduates from intact families and have known each other for years. The bride’s family was the kind you wished would adopt you when you were a kid. The groom’s family was deserving of such great in-laws.
So, while Rome burns, life goes on with hope for the future…albeit a future without forests.