It's been a hot summer. A really hot, record breaking, sweat inducing, no sleep making hot summer. Hot. It's being compared to the summer of 2003... the summer when hundreds of people died from the heat.
In August of 2003 my parents were visiting with my then young nephew and David and I were living in Piedmont but showing off our newest adventure....we'd just bought a little stone house in Liguria by the Sea. We'd taken them to see our new villa in Maberga that, as we knew it, was a diamond in the rough. Then we took them to lunch at a local iconic restaurant up the valley that specializes in mushroom cuisine, as advertised by the giant mushroom statue in their parking lot. When we came out of lunch, feeling slightly hallucinogenic from the fungus rich food, we noticed it was snowing....in August?
It wasn't snowing, it was ashing. there were wild fires blazing....blazing on the very mountains that lead to our new house. We dropped my parents at their hotel and headed up to Maberga where we spent an afternoon in anticipation of catastrophe. We stood in our new car park next to our new house with our neighbor, waiting. Watching. Silent. Feeling the wind. Will it change? If it changed direction the fire was on its way to us. There was nothing to do. It was a bad feeling.
Three days ago we came home from a morning swim in the sea, parked the car in our car park and saw smoke up the valley.
David called the fire department....and was put on hold. We saw a helicopter fly over us with basket of sea water.
And then another.
David hung up.
And then a canadair came.
Ok. Stop. I'm getting a little dramatic now. David and I went on with our normal life. the fire was up the valley, we just saw the smoke (and, yeah, ok, a few flames). David made some sugo. I made a ristra from these crazy, homicidally hot peppers from our orto.
Then night fell. It was dark. The fires were still blazing up the valley.
But the planes and helicopters had gone home. We watched the fire make small leaps over the ridge that had been keeping it away from us. Again we thought about the winds. If they go up the valley, we're ok. It they change, and come down the valley they bring the fire with them. Day winds go up the valley. Night winds come from the mountains and go down the valley. We are down the valley. We fielded calls from neighbors asking for news. And from friends offering a bed to sleep in. We cancelled our plans to go into the mountains star gazing. We fell asleep on the front patio watching the fire and feeling the winds. At about midnight we went to bed. By then it was snowing ash and the smoke we had been watching we were now breathing. The winds had changed.
Each hour throughout the night we woke to check the ridge line.
"If the fire gets to THAT ridge, that one closer, we go." we decided. I had the dogs' leashes and a change of undies packed.
At 7am the next morning there were 3 canadairs and 2 helicopters dropping sea water on the fires. They continued for 14 hours straight. This is hard to understand if you aren't directly under this sort of activity. We are 10 minutes from the sea... as the car drives, so as the bird or the canadair flies.....you do the math.
Today is Friday. And today there was 1 canadair and 2 helicopters flying and dropping water for most of the day.
Word on the street is that the fire was started by vandals.