Friday, June 08, 2018

the clouds came over and dropped about four drops of rain in our yard; I happened to be there, because I happened to step out to pee at about 5 45 am. this is because the water has been shut off here for about two days. we have four kids at home, two more who are more or less staying here most of the time, and a refrigerator that is not quite operating up to task, but the water leak was almost the last straw. all of a sudden all this ivy that is on the wall, that keeps the road from caving in on us, is doing so well; it's bright green, and seeming to get an infinite supply of water somewhere. well, that's our water bill, some rusty old pipes that come down from the street down into our house, that run our systems, most notably toilets, showers, dishwasher and laundry, well, all that has ground to a halt.

but those four drops, to tell you the truth, didn't amount to much. there could have been a few more, sometime in the middle of the night, or maybe afterward, and i wouldn't have noticed. in fact it probably could be said that a few clouds have passed through and possibly dropped a few here and there, over the course of the last week. a couple of days ago my wife and daughter were out at a trailer, about four miles away, and experienced a few drops out there, while there was nothing here. yes, that's possible. fire danger is still extreme. it's still important, we are told, to keep all fires indoors and avoid smoking anything outside.

when we go down into the valley, we go from about eighty, which is tolerable, to about a hundred, which makes us want to turn back around and go back up the mountain. the firefighters over in mescalero are probably operating in about ninety degree heat, without much water, but with the benefit of helicopters dropping slurry around the perimeter. i'm not sure exactly how this works. is slurry a kind of wet, muddy stuff that won't work with the ashes to ruin the surroundings? who knows. i wish them well out there. we've got firefighters from the surrounding states, from all over, coming to fight this particular fire. we don't hear much about it. yes, it started in soldier canyon, not far from the town of mescalero, in the middle of the mescalero reservation. it was human-caused. it was set somewhere behind what's called the "ceremonial grounds" of the mescalero res. it's up to 2500 acres, but they said that the same night as the fire started. what's unusual to me is, there isn't much public information that really keeps us updated about the containment, about the wind, about how large it is now, etc. they know all this stuff, they just consider themselves too busy to share it with the public.

folks are jumpy about fires here. for one thing, it hasn't really rained substantially since about october, so the extreme fire danger level, everyone knows that's justified; it applies to all of us; where there is a lot of underbrush, which is almost everywhere, there is a possibility; it's all a tinderbox, and any given flame could catch the whole valley. And the heck of it is, it does, every couple of years or so. a few years ago it caught the sierra blanca slopes, and that whole valley was just burned up, in days, thirty or forty, or maybe sixty or seventy, years growth in pines and firs, all went up in smoke in days. another year it was the valley our land was in; that might have been 12-15 years ago. whole mountainsides went up in smoke. everyone started over. there are some very tall pines, with branches at the top, that somehow survived; they overlook the new development of small pines that are springing up and making a new kind of ground cover.

in our house, people are waking up for sunday morning. we may have to turn on the water, so we can do a load of dishes and laundry, and people can take showers if they want. it's mostly self-absorbed kids here; they don't know or care about the mescalero fire. one daughter had a birthday, and just got a doll that poops. she's ten, but that doll, angel, is very important to her. i've just finished teaching three classes, early each morning, friday saturday and today, and i do these almost in my sleep, but the last one, actually, is the most lively. those chinese kids actually read books, and live for them, and talk about them, and relate them to their lives. i find this kind of remarkable, and invigorating. my own kids have lost interest in books. they would rather watch some little pac-man type character walk around beeping with the sound off, as this seems more like what they'd want to do for the summer. eighty is just about right, for hanging around the living room staring at one's phone. you have to stay near your charger, and make sure the food keeps on coming, but then, you kick back, and there goes summer.


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