Back Essay Fire

Back Essay Fire-69
I walked three blocks to a health clinic to get more masks for my parents and younger brother, seeing only the masked mail carrier on the sidewalk, who waved to me and said, “Stay safe out here.” By the next day we couldn’t even walk our dog around the block — the air was too dense and the ash too heavy.I read about the ways the fires were affecting the most vulnerable — school children who relied on public school breakfasts and lunches to eat.

I walked three blocks to a health clinic to get more masks for my parents and younger brother, seeing only the masked mail carrier on the sidewalk, who waved to me and said, “Stay safe out here.” By the next day we couldn’t even walk our dog around the block — the air was too dense and the ash too heavy.I read about the ways the fires were affecting the most vulnerable — school children who relied on public school breakfasts and lunches to eat.

It took exactly a week after the fire started for us to evacuate, and by then we’d waited so long it felt like a source of pride.

We watched the news as the fire crept up the spine of California, ash falling in flurries from a smoky sky.

“It’s still 30 miles away,” he said.“That’s terrible,” I replied absently, registering the news like any natural disaster befalling others — sad, scary, and unlikely to disrupt my day.

I stuffed graded essays in my bag before the 8 a.m. It was the final week of fall quarter classes at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I teach, and I was less focused on survival than on hounding students for late assignments before they all departed for Christmas break.“It’s going to be bad,” Justin said.

The Santa Barbara County Foodbank was donating food to feed these families, although eventually even their volunteers were sent home to protect their health, too.

People were leaving bowls of water out for displaced wildlife on their front steps; I imagined weary deer and coyotes wandering down in the night to finally rinse the grit from their mouths.

Outside, the day turned yellow, then orange, then gray.

Winds are capricious in California, and often hot, even at night.

In one class, a guest speaker stood in front of the students to talk about opportunities for on-campus journalism under flickering lights, like the final standoff in a horror film.

We all made a good show of caring about anything other than the fires.

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