I’m sure everyone has heard by now about the devastating fires that are raging in southern Australia, in the state of Victoria. As a Californian, I know a little bit about the damage that dry grass, high temperatures and strong winds can cause. It’s a problem every single year in California, most notably in Southern California, where the Santa Ana winds blow unabated for a good part of the fall and winter. When we were in college, Kim, who lived in Orange County, used to talk about how intolerable it was in her apartment, which didn’t have air conditioning, and because of the Santa Anas (also the cause of the heat) and the fires she couldn’t open her windows unless she wanted everything to be covered with soot and ash.
When I was a junior in college, the Cedar Fire literally tore through San Diego, and several of my friends’ families lost their houses. Last summer, Northern California (where my parents live) and Central California were covered in both human-caused and dry lightning strike-caused fires. It’s no joke. It wasn’t until I moved to California that I really started to fear fire because I grew up in a wetter climate, where a fire might spread house to house but it’s not going to spread county to county in the blink of an eye.
Although, I do remember there being a fire on the block next to ours and the fire department doing a tour of it, I guess to impress the necessity of fire safety, and my mother taking us (I must’ve been about eight, because I think my sister was with us in a stroller). It was terrifying. Everything was charred and black and unrecognizable, and while I hadn’t known the family who lived in the house (everyone survived, thankfully), the houses in our subdivision were really just three different layouts and then their mirror images, so this house looked exactly like the houses of several of our friends in the neighborhood. But that was just one house. Imagine thousands of houses, basically turned into blackened rubble in a matter of hours.
All Unquiet Things begins at the end of a hot, windy, dusty summer, where everything is bone dry and you’re waiting for either the rain to come and take away the danger or a fire to start and turn the whole place into an inferno. It’s a precarious time in California. So I can imagine the fear and the sadness people in Australia are experiencing right now. They’re saying that some of the fires can probably be attributed to arson, which floors me. I can’t imagine any reason why someone would start a fire at all, let alone during the windiest, driest season in a country full of brush that’s just ready to burn.
Anyway, this is all to say please keep these people in your thoughts and, if you can, donate to the Red Cross.