For the newcomers to our normally placid valleys, we offer this sobering thought: This is normal. Blistering heat, gusty winds so dry they turn the lush to tinder, lightning strikes too numerous to count, people too careless to believe, followed inevitably by raging fires moving faster than humans can run, friends and neighbors ordered to flee, horizons bright orange with flame and the smoke flowing down the slopes to choke us out. It’s routine.
It may not happen every summer. We have respites long enough to blank out some memories, making this year’s fires seem catastrophic and not just a continuation of a trend. Rest assured, this is nothing new. We live at the dessicated eastern foot of a great mountain range, in the shadow where rain is sparse, the soil dry and vegetation crisp. Fire here is a natural thing.