Sunday morning was as normal as any day in my life. My friend Nikki dropped me off in my driveway after our daily 2 1/2 hour walk around Spring Lake with her dog Beso. I closed the car door as she said her usual good-bye: “see you in the A.M.” Sunday night I went to bed around 10 PM, hoping to get a good night’s rest before repeating our daily routine on Monday morning. Now, that moment keeps repeating in my head! I just want to go back to that moment and have everything be different than how it has now turned out! 

I was in bed no more than a few minutes when I heard a roaring sound like a train. Then I heard things come crashing down on my front porch. I opened the door to find all my huge heavy pots of podocarpus trees lying on their sides. It would have taken hurricane force winds to take those trees down, I thought to myself. Then I smelled smoke. I walked out to my yard to find the western sky red with the glare of fire. As I turned to the east I noticed the eastern sky was also glaring red. My worst fears were being manifested in that moment. My only escape route, highway 12 seemed to be on fire at both ends. 

I got into my car and drove to each end of my village, Oakmont. There in the distance I could see the flames rising into the night sky! That was the precise moment reality assaulted every part of my being. That was the moment my body sent me onto shock in order to protect me. Everything I had practiced before, in anticipation of this moment, was disrupted by the sheer terror of the reality I now faced. I frantically packed my car then made my way down highway 12, in a dream state, feeling like I was being directed by some force outside my own body. The dark black smoke provided a canvas for the red glow of the now raging fires. Each time I approached the top of an incline, the fingers of fire revealed themselves, stoking a quiet terror in my core. I could see the trails of headlights slowly winding down the road like an iridescent snake. Everything was in slow motion, but with an unmistakable urgency. I was not patient because I was calm. I was patient because there was no other choice. I understood that I was living the reality of the fire drills of my school youth when the teachers would instruct us to stay calm and exit single file. But this was no drill. This was the real thing!

Tonight the humidity and the wind will return to dangerous levels similar to those on Sunday night. Those of us directly affected by this unrelenting nightmare must summon even more courage to face the unknown. I am safe in the sanctuary of my friends' home in San Francisco. My home is still standing as I write this. But there is no end in sight and there are no guarantees. I must simply wait while trying to find the ability to accept what I cannot change.    

Views: 781

Comment by koshersalaami on October 11, 2017 at 6:54pm

I wish you luck

This sounds insane

Comment by alsoknownas on October 11, 2017 at 7:16pm

Terribly frightening and such loss.

I wish you well.

Comment by Boanerges on October 12, 2017 at 6:51am

Godspeed, Robert. Be safe.

This has been happening up here since last year -- when Fort McMurray, Alta., was devastated -- and is continuing right now in the BC interior. Yeah, climate change is a myth, for sure.

Where's FireBoss when you need her and her expertise?

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on October 12, 2017 at 6:58am

@ mbj   You must Let Go of new agey bastardisations of venerable ancient philosophies that would not ever advise detachment amidst existential widespread peril of loved ones, friends, writings artwork, beloved pets.... Your advice to Robrt, above, is perverse.

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on October 12, 2017 at 7:00am

...and, Robert:  all-best.

Comment by Rosigami on October 12, 2017 at 7:33am

Almost incomprehensible.  I wish you well, Robert.

Comment by Robert Starkey on October 12, 2017 at 10:09am

On the spiritual side: I believe in karma!

Comment by J.P. Hart on October 12, 2017 at 1:17pm

Affectionately: and to think the powers that be are playing snide ping-pong with ICBMs.

AOTUS (Alpha of the United States) must be hard of hearing, Kim Jung Un bat-shock crazy.

I wish it would rain, Mr. Starkey. An epic horizontal John Hawkes rain.

Hope the libraries are secure.

The evacuation timely, containment imminent, better tomorrows, Utopian reconstruction.

I'll be playing the Beach Boys Water, Water to see what happens.

Maybe a singular two-buck chuck, 

wishing you good luck!

Comment by Anna Herrington on October 14, 2017 at 1:16pm

Robert, you tell of the shock, suddenness and horror really well. Did your house remain unscathed or it was lost like so many others? Do you even know yet?

So sudden. We westerners are used to wildfire but so often it's just the smoke that seems endless while the fires are in remote and rugged canyons or some other forested topography.... this was different.

Best to you and yours - we had friends who live in Santa Rosa, elderly, very elderly, who were evacuated in time but their home is gone, their life is now meant to start over at mid-90s? They, survivors as child and teen of the Holocaust, are rather broken, today. It was just too much. But they will rally, one son says, family's all around now, they survived. 

Glad to know you survived, too, good luck to you going forward!

...and still the rains refuse to fall over California....


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