Fire and Ice
“Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.”Robert Frost
It has been some time since my last post. In that time, I have been living in a fire zone. There have been fires everywhere. I have been living in a haze. This haze has taken two forms.
The Air We Breathe
The first, is the literal fire haze, which arose from the terrible wildfires that engulfed much of California and the West Coast over the last two months or more. The skies turned a horrifying orange in most areas and an even darker hue in the thick of the fire zones. Our lungs struggled to breathe as the smoke blanketed our state. We had air purifiers running all day and night. Our lungs struggled to breathe, to take in air.
We watched Netflix for hours on end to block out the feeling that we were living in some post-apocalyptic scenario. Daily we peered out our windows hoping to find a tiny sliver of blue sky. Even puffy white clouds seemed better than grey ones. The number of people who lost their homes hurt the heart. The people who were transient and homeless already, had to grapple with this new environment and with the existing Covid-19 pandemic. People prayed that the fires would not reach their homes and communities. We were all awed and horrified by the wrath of nature and how it contrasted with our small lives and our little plans. And the worst part is that fire season is still not officially over.
The second haze I was in was that of California being ignored. Of being screened off from Federal attention, for a long time after the fires started. While California is the most populous state in the United States, it’s plight was somehow neglected by the leadership in our nation’s capital. For weeks, we felt orphaned and unwanted in our time of need. Could California have been totally incinerated and our nation’s capital would have barely blinked? For those who thought it was good riddance to us, could they really have been so arrogant? Did they not know that this creeping phenomenon of nature and climate would not respect borders, boundaries or even countries? Do the ultra-wealthy one percent in the country nay, in the world, even care? The billionaire elite can bundle into their pods with their children and remove themselves from our plight.
So it is the rest of us and our children. The ninety percent or so who have to face this head on for us and for the next generation.
We Need to Hold Up the Sky
The average ninety percent of people facing this, cross political lines. They cross racial, religious, ethnic, cultural and national boundaries. Maybe I am fevered by the back-to-back phenomena of Covid-19 shelter-in-place and these horrific fires. Perhaps the reality of Covid-19’s epic unemployment and rampant loss of health coverage in this country depresses me. Maybe evictions and food insecurity, in one of richest countries on Earth is getting me down. And please don’t tell me it is because we don’t work hard enough. Or that we aren’t trying enough.
Listen to Mother Nature
While Covid-19 may be eradicated by a new vaccine one day soon, this fire-nature-imbalance thing, however, will not disappear as quickly. Neither will extreme weather patterns. So whether you live in California, in other parts of the United States or on the other side of the world, the message is clear. This weather phenomena is coming for all of us because it has steadily increased in severity, in the form of fire or some other climate manifestation. It doesn’t need to have a name or a term. The little taste of it we had in California, ominously growing bigger and bigger over the last few years and spreading to the rest of the West coast, was very uncomfortable. Believe me, it will be a powerful moment when we realize that our egos are no match for the enraged forces of Mother Nature.
We need to listen.