It’s windy in California. The dangerous winds of autumn. The leaves of the trees are starting to turn color while the grass dries. The rains of winter haven’t touched the hills in seven months. The air is dry. Years of drought have killed millions of trees and a bonfire stands ready for that single spark.
Californians have always risked living in the land set on the great Pacific Ring of Fire. Earthquakes and volcanoes rip through this land – shaping it, molding it, pushing the earth up from the ocean depths where grass, tree, and bear come to live in the sun. A land of extremes.
Santa Ana winds. Dry, hot, and blowing inland to the sea. Backwards. The air doesn’t bring in the refreshing sea air or the cleansing rain. It brings dust. It dries the grass, rattles the roof and swings the power lines. It always comes in the fall.
Power. Our modern world is driven by power. Electricity driving the engine of the world. Lights, TVs, stoves, refrigerators, cell phones, and computers. We’ve lost the ability to see the night sky or grow our own food. Each technological advance turns up the need for power lines across the forest and over the golden grass.
It only takes a spark. A carelessly thrown cigarette, a lawn mower hits a rock, a campfire imprudently managed, the wind pushes an old tree into an electric line or the rusty clamp on a high tension line breaks in the Santa Ana gale …
Now we again watch as fire fills the air with smoke. 200,000 of our neighbors are ordered to flee the flames. 78 square miles are on fire and to prevent more sparks the electricity has been turned off to 2.7 million people. Now they sit in the dark, fearing that they may need to join the exodus.
And in their control centers, offices, and seats of power, those charged with preventing this tragedy again prove they are unable to protect those they are suppose to serve.
Again nature proves its power over us.
And again we fail to learn the lesson we’re being taught.