"Those hot dry winds that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen." -- Raymond Chandler
When I was eleven or twelve I stood on our balcony and watched what looked like I imagined snowfall would look like, white flakes raining from the sky. The Santa Ana's were in town and Malibu was on fire.
That's one of the things I noticed this time, no ash. On Sunday we stood on top of the parking lot at the Grove, and saw the smoke coming down the coast from Malibu. Tuesday the air near my work in West Hollywood was so thick it made breathing hard. According to the news the worst air gathers in Long Beach, there residents like my friend Meg were advised to stay indoors. In San Diego some of my family evacuated, and thankfully their house made it.
Wednesday morning at the Farmers Market on the promenade a man in a suit yelled "There's no air here" to no one in particular. Yet I found Santa Monica clear and blue, the air free of that ash and smoke quality.
That same day we went down to the beach. The sun was blazing and the coastal view had turned to mud. Above the city the sky was clear and blue, but out over the pacific was another story. The sky was brown, the water reflecting the sky was brown, and the wet sand on the shore was brown. No picture can capture the surreality of the situation.
Besides the beach I might never have known there were fires except for the light coming through my patio window. Golden yellow, all day long. As though there was a constant sunset.