Burned Out

sky, fire, hahamongna

There’s something romantic about a writing retreat. A lonely cabin, a cup of coffee on the porch in the morning with your feet up on the rail, a cozy log fire at night. The best is the hours of isolation during the quiet days and long, starry nights to create your work, where your mind can play freely without the interruption of a ringing phone or the black hole of the internet.

Or a raging wildfire.

I’ve been looking forward to a break from daily burnout in the form of a week’s writing residency, which was scheduled to happen next week in the San Gabriel Mountains near Wrightwood, California. My lonely cabin: an apartment in a US Forest Service lodge. That coffee on the porch in the morning: I could taste it, smell it. The log fire: well, the last thing our mountains need is more fire.

If you’ve heard of the Blue Cut Fire in the Cajon pass, I don’t have to say much more. My residency has been postponed. Hundreds of firefighters are working to protect mountain communities. Whole towns have been evacuated, including Wrightwood. We’re used to brush fires, but this season is a bad one. The Forest Service does not need me under foot right now.

That’s fine with me. My disappointment is minor, compared to the devastation of loss of home, loss of life, loss of wildlife. Brush fires are natural, but this one is out of control.

My thoughts go out to all who are affected by the fires, and my admiration goes to the US Forest Service workers and firefighters. Climate change is real, and we’re seeing it in action.

#Angeles National Forest#hiking#San Gabriel Mountains National Monument#US Forest Service#Wrightwood CA


  1. Chris - August 19, 2016 @ 11:36

    You are right,, this year has been bad for Cali… I am sure u heard of our Sand fire… I thought that was bad… Can u imagine being one of those 87000 that had to evacuate… My heart just drops at that number of people having to leave and not know if they’ll have a home to come to…

    • Petrea - August 19, 2016 @ 13:07

      Yes, the Sand Fire was awful! It totally smoked out Pasadena and people could see it from the south beaches. Imagine, this one is worse. I do not want to see another Station Fire again, ever.

  2. William Kendall - August 19, 2016 @ 12:25

    I know someone online who’s not far from the Blue Cut fire. Her area has not been evacuated, but you can imagine, everyone there is tense.

    • Petrea - August 19, 2016 @ 13:11

      I imagine so, William. I didn’t know you in 2009 during the Station Fire, but it burned 250 square miles and went on for more than 6 weeks. It was a tense time for everyone here, though where I live in Pasadena it’s pretty safe from brush fires.

    • Petrea - August 19, 2016 @ 13:11

      Please send her my best. The stress is high, even here, and we’re so far away.

  3. magiceye - August 21, 2016 @ 19:17

    Sad to read about the destruction caused by the fire but loved your description of the writing retreat and the picture

    • Petrea - August 22, 2016 @ 11:31

      Thanks, magiceye. These fires burn here from time to time, it’s part of the natural cycle. But things are unnaturally dry now, and fires tend to get out of hand. More than 100 homes were lost in the most recent fire. It’s climate change right before our eyes.

  4. Shelley - August 23, 2016 @ 00:48

    Oh, Petrea. It was on the news here and I didn’t realise that’s where your retreat was. I hadn’t put two and two together and even so, my maths is better than my geography. Those poor people and animals in that area ~ how devastating. I’m glad you weren’t already there and caught up in the thick of it.

    • Petrea - August 23, 2016 @ 16:19

      I saw a photo that stopped my heart: a young coyote, trotting across barren devastation with smoke in the background. Perhaps she escaped the fire. I hope there will be something for her to eat and water to drink. I know you get serious fires in Oz, and you do understand.

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