Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mom is really mad......

Back from the coast......

The view up the Little Sur River valley is calm, cool and quiet. The mountain is smoked. Wasted....but the mountain has skills and can deal with this little fire.

We left Cachagua at 108 degrees.....and an hour later found ourselves in dense fog at 64 degrees on Hwy 1.

Mom is fucking with us.

The fire is now visible from the Village. Tonight we drove up Cachagua Road to the Lookout to check on things. The Lookout has been a meeting place for all kinds of random folks. I talked to Lyle there today about stuff he did in those burning mountains 35 years ago. Google has helped make me a more knowing appreciator of those hills.

As has Xasauan...the orginal spelling of Cachagua. If there is ever a blogger Pulitzer, I think these guys deserve the California mention. Really. The actual Pulitzer. They have been doing real journalism for weeks now the like of which the folks in New York and Washington have forgotten. Go to Xasauan first.

Tonight at the Lookout there was a small, respectful crowd. Pick-ups, work trucks, cars....hybrids. No one had any lights showing....and those who drove used parking lights or fog lights.

The flames are shooting up to 600 feet in the air. Uncle Sam is burning with a vengeance. Tassajara is burning with a vengeance. We observers are in no danger....or are our properties in any danger. But, the silence and respect for the force of nature we were observing was palpable. It reminded me of the tourists in the Duomo in Florence. Shut up. This is awe-some. Be quiet and thing about how it affects you and yours.

Silence and awed respect are not normal emotions in Cachagua.

And the mountains......I look at the every day. Until they started burning I did not keep close track of which was which. Now I know exactly where Elephant ends and Uncle Sam begins. Like I now remember which perfume my second wife really liked.... Too late!

A couple of nuggets from the day's gleanings:

In the Marble Cone fire in '77 there was a famous "fireball". An area had not burned in 75 years....and with the heat and low humidity and the fire and all........when the flames hit the entire mountainside exploded and six square miles burned in twenty minutes. 3600 acres.

The word is.....just such an area still exists today. It lies approximately on the line between the two Forest Service commands (CC and GG or some such) approximately in the area of White Rock and the entrance to The Preserve.

The Feds have executed an exquisite little backburn up there.....supposedly. All this is with the usual grain of salt....but our sources are calm, mostly sober, and way old school dozer operators. Some of them are right now cutting a fire break through what they are all calling the FireBall.

If the main containment line does not hold, and the backburn does not succeed in turning the fire away from White Rock.....the new line might help. None of the ground troops are buying it.

Just so everyone understands the basic ordinary day-to-day quiet heroism or stoicism of guys like.....Deano, for instance.....the guy is cutting a 15 foot wide break through a 100 year old stand of brush in an area identical to one that literally exploded thirty years ago.

You can't outrun a fire.

But, Deano is right now cutting that line.....and he will probably be OK. Talk about pucker power.

Another nugget: The Preserve is flying in a fire suppression team from Australia....on the nickel of the insurance company. Picture the cost of flying in a bunch of bull-goose loony Aussies halfway across the opposed to dealing with the attorneys for the owner of ONE of the 100 plus six million dollar homes in there.

On my communist radio station (KRXA) they were bitching about the Bushies trying to privatize wildfirefighting. I have spent the week feeding a private wildfirefighting company. They are well-funded, the owner is a nutball who has only the best, pristine, well-maintained equipment....and we are all in terror of him....well, actually his wife.

His quote at dinner tonight when I explained to the gathered firefighters: "Yep. I wear the pants....but She runs the Zipper!"

Our boss pays good money and is a lunatic who spends all his time, energy and money perfecting his weird hobby. He has assembled a really good team....and we are all proud to play a part....kind of like playing basketball for Bobby Knight. No, not that negative.....

I love the dedication and altruism of the mobs of Nomex-clad folk from New Hampshire and Oregon and Washington and Idaho who are working for the gubmint nickel.

But....there is still a place for a crew like this one. Want your house saved for SURE.....guaranteed? Call Fire-busters.

The funny thing is that it is the same crew. Deano works with all my guys, and Callie, and my boss is best buddies with their boss. And the ground troops will run through fire for a paycheck, or a volunteer job....or just to be able to do a really good job with good equipment in a tight situation.


The Preserve could have done a lot better a lot closer to home.

Meanwhile.......talking about heroes.

Check out the latest MODUS shot of Tassajara.

Goddam it. The monks teach us about lack of attachment, so the whole hero thing is tough to justify in Buddhism. I love it that the Director, David, and his crew recognize that there is something of value in the sentimentality of possession.

I am reminded of Tennyson:

"Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die......

" Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six......"

These guys seem to be crossing the paths of their daily beliefs to save some buildings. Buildings that I and all my friends and aquaintances have had experiences in and around. We won't even discuss the number of kids now in our lives who were conceived in some of those buildings.

The irony is that David and his crew are putting their lives on the line for the sentimentality of people that are only watching their heroism from afar.

Wow. Parents of children serving in Iraq please don't yell at me.

As someone who doesn't pray.....I am praying for those monks.

Here is Robinson Jeffers on the subject....

The extraordinary patience of things!
This beautiful place defaced with a crop of surburban houses-
How beautiful when we first beheld it,
Unbroken field of poppy and lupin walled with clean cliffs;
No intrusion but two or three horses pasturing,
Or a few milch cows rubbing their flanks on the outcrop rockheads-
Now the spoiler has come: does it care?
Not faintly. It has all time. It knows the people are a tide
That swells and in time will ebb, and all
Their works dissolve. Meanwhile the image of the pristine beauty
Lives in the very grain of the granite,
Safe as the endless ocean that climbs our cliff.-As for us:
We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;
We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from....


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