Saturday, May 16, 2015

Sepia Saturday 279: Danger!

The theme for this week's Sepia Saturday relates to safety, danger, industry. I don't have photos of
hazards or industrial works but I do have some photos borrowed from the internet of events that occur around here and strike fear into us.

Arnold Genthe photo - 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. From Wikipedia

Aren't the weather girls pretty? Look at the long beautiful hair, the perfect make-up, the slinky dresses showing off all their curves. Eye candy. Well, that may be what you see.When those pretty girls come on screen with that map behind them and start talking about Santa Ana winds, they're often the harbingers of doom for us.

Where we live, disaster comes most often in the form of fire. Yeah, yeah, we get earthquakes and they're terrible, but we live with the fear of fire almost daily. I've posted the famous Arnold Genthe photo of San Francisco in 1906 when they got the double whammy of earthquake and fire.

Now that we've endured a four-year drought, the fire situation here is worse than ever. We live in an area where people have 5 acre or 10 acre lots and engage in minor agricultural pursuits; no concrete jungle. There's plenty of dry brush around and it goes up in seconds when the temperature rises, the fires start and the Santa Ana winds begin blowing.

About the Santa Ana winds from  Wikipedia.
The Santa Ana winds are a part of popular culture in Los Angeles: In Raymond Chandler's 1938 short story Red Wind (another name for the winds), the Santa Anas were described as "those hot dry [winds] that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. "On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen."

Do we pick up the carving knife and feel the edge when the wind blows? No...we have no time to think about murdering each other. We prepare to evacuate! I've done it three times since I've lived in San Diego County. We have boxes in our garage ready to fill if the evacuation phone call comes. I keep the old photos, important records and our pet carrier for the cats at the ready. At the same time that we're getting our paltry things together, people around us are making sure they're ready to evacuate horses, chickens, pigs, goats, sheep and all manner of animals.

Still life, after the fire.
Twice, in two different locations, the house beside me burned down. Once in Bend, Oregon and once in Glendale, California. Here in Fallbrook, we've had fires come too close for comfort. Two of my friends lost their homes in the last big Fallbrook fire, in 2007.

I didn't think I would be able to write anything this week, but RAIN today has kept me indoors. Yes, at last, when we thought the possibility of precipitation was over for the year. We've received almost 2 inches of rain - our avocado trees are sighing with relief and we're rejoicing.

For more thrills and danger, head over to Sepia Saturday.


  1. There has been drought in Minnesota, but not nearly as bad as California. Here, we have to worry about tornadoes. The building where I live now was destroyed in a 1965 tornado and rebuilt.

  2. Growing up in rural Africa, the threat of bushfires was always present, so I quite understand your situation. Perhaps that's one reason I chose to live where I do now - everything's so green that the risk of bush fires is practically nil. That doesn't stop house fires though, since most houses here are constructed from wood.

  3. I'm glad that I live in a region not exposed to the dangers you describe. We only experience what it looks like from TV.

  4. Blogging takes us to so many regions of the world where the landscape and climate introduce us to other people's safety concerns. When I lived on the Atlantic coast it was hurricanes that was the big worry but I've since learned that those weather events were nothing compared to the frightening tornado storms in the Midwest. I've read that California fires are exacerbated by the introduction of the Eucalyptus trees from Australia during the 1850s.

  5. Living where we live (Sonora, CA area) I can certainly relate to the threat of fire. In 1987 we were evacuated from Groveland b/c of the Stanislaus Complex Fire that burned 150,000 acres of prime forest. Eventually we moved down the hill to Soulsbyville just east of Sonora & what happens? We're right in the line of fire from the 2013 Rim Fire that burned something like 230,000 acres - burning, again, over much of the Stanislaus Complex Fire & again, we received word to be ready to evacuate. Fortunately we didn't have to leave this time, but like you, we're always ready for the possibility in the summer! When we hear those air tankers flying over the house we're immediately outside looking for the smoke!

  6. How wonderful that you have rain. We have a friend who lives in Simi Valley and I remember watching the news a few years ago when the fire was so close to his home, wondering if he'd evacuated or was able to say. I was on pins and needles. I can't imagine how hard it would be living where fire was such a prevalent danger.

  7. In the letters my Uncle Ralph wrote in the 1980s, he was always concerned about the Santa Ana's. I can hardly imagine what he would think and write about the winds and fires in the area during the last few years. But rain is good at the moment, right?

  8. Anonymous4:13 PM

    We might not have the earthquakes here in Australia but droughts, bushfires and floods are part of our annual cycle. And you would be surprised how familiar the American disasters like you have written about are to us through our TV news. Are our disasters familiar to you ? I'm just glad we don't have earthquakes, or at least they are so mild all they do is a bit of rattling. I would be terrified of them.

  9. We Aussies know all about drought and fire ... but still people think it's never going to happen to them.
    Your first photo is amazing. Imagine hauling your chairs out to the road so you could watch the city burn in comfort.

  10. Whenever I hear about those big fires, I wonder that anyone lives there at all. But there is probably no perfectly safe spot. Virginia used never to have earthquakes and tornadoes, but they have made their way to our side of the country.

  11. I don't know why, but those sexy weather girls make me mad! I'd rather get my weather report from someone who looks a little more scientific. This is serious business!