The fire they’re calling “the Station Fire” has been burning for days now. 127,000 acres have been ravaged and there is no question that I should be inside, protecting my lungs from toxic air. But instead, I’m in the backyard, in the crazy hot air, trying to figure out what to call the color that surrounds me. The sky is dark hours before sunset due to thick smoke from the fires combined with a cloud cover that moved in only this morning. It’s a sort of brownish, rosy-orange. And the concrete around my pool is a shade that can only be described as “1950s Patio Pink”. And somehow the brownish sky with my pinkish patio has turned my whole backyard a sort of post-apocalyptic nuclear-waste-orangey-red. Its as though I’m looking at my yard through one of those filters the rental people put over the ugly lights you get for events – the things they call “gels”. That’s it. My yard looks like its been swathed in a pink and orange work light gel. There’s nothing subtle about it. And though it does accentuate the hot pinks of my bougainvillea and the vivid grayish blue of that plant way in the back, it seems rather gaudy and unforgiving. I wonder if those people at Crayola would consider adding this as the newest color in the box. Is “Post-Apocalyptic Orange” a good name for it? Or maybe “Death-Smoke Gold”?
The strangest thing about this air is that it makes me want to smoke. I know that seems counter-intuitive. You’d think that the thick haze would make me crave fresh air. But it doesn’t really. It makes me think that my lungs are being corrupted anyway so I might as well have a good time. I don’t though. I make it a point not to have cigarettes around. If they’re not around I don’t smoke them. If they are, I do. But they aren’t around now. So I sit outside, in the putrid air, and feel incredibly grateful that my little corner of the valley is safe for now, that those I love most are safe for now and that the orangey haze in my backyard will someday be replaced by clean fresh air. Someday. After the fires are gone.