It has been said that writers tend to write more during times of difficulty. Well, I bring you this blog entry from my home town Santa Barbara, which has just been through four major fires in less than two years—Zaca Fire, Gap Fire, Tea Fire and now the recent Jesusita fire. My husband, dog and I have had to evacuate for the last two fires, but I must tell you that The Jesusita fire was the most frightening because of the strong sundowner winds, every firefighters nightmare. Luckily, we happened to be out-of-town for most of the fire, but friends here emailed and called to say that it might have been some of the scariest days of their lives—Apocalyptic in nature—a multitude of helicopters caressing the air space, high winds and power failures sprawling from one end of the city to the next.
My email updates to friends around the country questioned whether this was the price we had to pay for living in a paradise like Santa Barbara, which some call the French Riviera. Our beautiful surrounding mountains are now covered with ash. I have frequently hiked the Jesuisita Trail (the fire’s namesake) to a scenic peak called Inspiration Point which offers the most magnificent panoramic view of the city. It’s the place I love to take photographers and out-of-towners to point out the magnificent town framed by majestic mountains meeting the expanse of the Pacific Ocean. These trails are often visited by runners, bikers and hikers. In fact, there is speculation now that the grass was so high in certain areas that you could not even see your feet as you ran and that one of the visitors might have used a power tool to clear the brush and this might have precipitated the fire—an act that might have been well-meaning, but it was not well-thought out and definitely, ‘back-fired.’ (excuse the pun).
Aside from Santa Barbara’s natural beauty, the inhabitants of our town appreciate the quality of life which cannot be had any other place in the country. Many of the people now living in Santa Barbara visited years ago, fell in love and relocated. Others were lucky enough to have been born here. We are a fine eclectic collection of writers, artists, students, professors, engineers, entrepreneurs and developers. We’re a friendly bunch living in a crisp, clean, sunshine-filled paradise where rain is either thought of as either as a treat or hindrance, but, these past few days, most of us agree that we will put up with our umbrellas to save our town’s beauty!