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The other night around 11, the hills caught fire. I was driving home from dinner with a friend and we saw a bright orange glow on the ridge – it was very Halloweenee. But we both new what it was. Growing up in fire country (landslide and earthquakes too) that vision and smell stays in your blood forever. So much so that when I saw my first snowfall as a teen in Madrid, I thought it was ash from a fire. Duh.

After I dropped my pal off, I drove up to the top of our neighborhood to check on a dog friend and his owners. They live directly on the edge of a state park. From their back yard we watched the orange glow grow brighter then dimmer, then brighter again. The helicopters began to swarm, hover, dump water, race off, repeat. There was a thrill in the air but not one of adventure, it is panic. Luckily there was no wind but the day had been hot and of course there was the drought to consider.

When I was a child we watched Malibu burn. It burned so far south we could see the flames. It was a war zone. Everything had a layer of ash on it and the once satisfying smell of burning wood began to burn your lungs and nostrils. It was a devastating fire. 10 or 20 years later it happened again.

And now at 4am I smell smoke. Sure, it could come from anywhere; the homeless dudes encampment below the bluffs, the remnants from the fire two days ago…or it just be my olfactory memory. It’s jumpy.

Thankfully the other nights fire was not jumpy. The fire department put it out within a few hours and the following day helicopters hovered over the land looking for hotspots.

October means fire season here. One thing that always makes me wonder is what about all the skeletal remains of fish an archeologist might find in a thousand years or so? Our Super Scoopers gulp up the bay’s water and dump it on the burning mountains, race back and do it again. How awkward would it be if they caught a great white and dumped him on someone’s house? Ancient Aliens: Sharknado 4.

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