Once again out my window the sky is a glum grey. Partly it’s the coastal fog, partly it’s the fire. We washed the car Carol’s mom gave us yesterday because of all the ash that had fallen on it. I was going to wait till the ash stopped falling, but the chances of that happening soon appear remote.
The Big Fire, as I called it, actually started on July 4—what is it now, August 6—I guess. So the fire has been burning off and on for a month. First it would look contained and then it wasn’t. When I washed that car about three weeks ago, I did so because of the ash buildup. So I guess it has been going on for about four weeks.
And now reports are that the fire will continue to burn until September 7. How they can be so exact about the end date, I don’t know. But that’s what they say, September 7. The fire is going to burn another month. They say it has burned 88 square miles, though I have absolutely no idea how big that is.
But Santa Barbara and environs do not appear immediately threatened except by gloomy skies, falling ash, and very bad air quality. People are warned not to exercise I whole lot outside.
This fire would make a good back drop to a gloomy angst ridden European movie. The people in the movie could sit around talking aimlessly, and cough every now and again, and somebody would say let’s go see the fire, and they would hop in their Winnebago—not that angst ridden Europeans would be caught dead in a Winnebago—and they would drive and drive, and there would be road blocks and detours; and all the while they would talk aimlessly, or sit silently while consuming mass quantities of wine purchased at the wineries they had been driving (as featured in movie, Sideways) through in their attempts to locate the fire. And after a while, the Winnebago would break down or they would drive over a cliff or into a thick cloud of smoke and that would be the end of the movie.
I once say a German movie like that. These two guys—maybe they are on official business—do nothing but drive the whole movie along the old cold war border between West and East Germany. I think the border was supposed to be symbolic and indicative of their deep alienation. And I saw a French movie too that ended like that. In one scene this young couple, having overcome their alienation and decided to cast their fate with love, go to see the new apartment that is being built for them in public housing. And the next scene, the young woman of the couple is being interviewed at a police state because, it seems, the young man had been trying to take a picture of his girl friend in the apartment and while trying to get the right angle had backed his ass right off the side of the building and fallen to his death.
They don’t make them like that no more. But today with this month old fire I feel as if I am living in some sort of angst ridden American movie.