Some instinct drove me to book my usual guest room at Jim and Nancy’s place in Oakland. As fate would have it, my Stanford gurus re-arranged Thursday’s appointments. I would have made the Delta well past night fall. Instead, I held a glass of a very lovely Oregon red from a seat beside the schefflera on the patio by six. In an hour, a fire blazed in the steel pit and the aroma of pasta wafted towards me.
Now I have taken a detour and sit at a table beside the bay in Vallejo. I don’t need the banana bread but I always encourage those cafes which provide gluten-free fare. One for the team, calories around my waist but nonetheless delicious. A family speaking Spanish stroll past, the little girl on a wobbly bike encouraged by her brother. I hear a mortgage broker convincing a couple that they can afford more house than they want to buy. Their coffee cools as they listen to him. I want to step over to them and shout “Don’t do it!” But I hold my peace. I’m terrible with money, so what do I know? I think his dark glasses should suggest untrustworthiness. He sounds a little slick to me.
The fragrance of the sea mingles with the smokey haze drifting down from Shasta County. Firefighters have gotten the inferno under control. Evacuation orders have been lifted. Families hurry back to their neighborhoods to frantically search among the embers for whatever can be salvaged. Funerals for the lost citizens and firefighters mar the joy. The perrenial purge of the woodlands by nature has intensified with the impact of human damage to our ecosystems. This much cannot escape our understanding as we watch the fires burn hotter, and longer, and more often than Northern California has ever seen.
Travelers descend and cross to the ferry as I watch. I cannot help wondering where their journeys will end. As for myself, I’m almost home.
It’s the third day of the fifty-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.