By Fred Owens
California is on fire. The latest news said the Redding fire had torched 89,000 acres and was five percent contained. At least five are dead, many more missing and 500 structures burned. When they say structure they mean including barns and garages and stores, but you now it's mostly homes that were destroyed by the flames.
The Redding fire is the biggest of almost a dozen fires in the state. Crews are getting overworked and tired. Resources are thinly stretched. All eyes are on the weather, which is expected to continue hot into three digits.
None of this is near us in Santa Barbara. A light smoke was in the air Friday night from a one-acre blaze three miles from our house. It is reported to be contained this morning. And there is no smoky smell.
You think it was just a one-acre blaze, but all the big fires start out with just one-acre -- just one spark. You look around your property and you don't see trees and shrubbery, you see fuel. The fire loves fuel, the fire leaps the Sacramento River and leaps the freeway on the wind, racing toward more fuel, and so much of what we have and where we live can catch fire.
This is California this summer. We don't over worry. We might keep an eye to what we might throw into the car if we had to leave, but otherwise we -- like yesterday, we walked down to the harbor and out to the breakwater to watch the sailboats racing and the seals splashing and the pelicans cruising.
Every Saturday at 2 p.m. the Santa Barbara Ukelele Club gathers under the coral trees by the Harbormaster's office, gathers on the lawn in a circle, 25 players with their ukes playing Sloop John B and other old tunes. We sat on the grass and listened for a half hour.
Sunday, this morning, we had avocado omelettes. Anita gave us three giant avos from her backyard tree and they got ripe and it was time for omelettes. This is what keeps us strong and keeps us hopeful while the fires are raging.
And we banned plastic straws in Santa Barbara. You can laugh all you want..... but when you come to visit our beautiful city, you can bring your own straws, or you can ask for one at the counter, or just sip straight from the cup.... Yes, the joke is on us, but you still won't get a straw. Plastic straws, banned or not, might seem trivial while the fires are burning. Maybe the ways and means of California folks seem frivolous. Think what you will. When we have a problem, we grab a towel and head for the beach -- we find our strength that way.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend,