Santa Cruz is on Fire

Last night there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  The sun sank below the hills at about 8 and the temperature downtown dropped like a rock.  I was wearing an outfit I’d picked out at 3: knee-length capris; an old, brown t-shirt; flip-flops; a baseball cap.   I’m covered in bicycle grease and eating Hunan fish at a mostly-takeout chinese restaurant when a breeze brings in news of the changing temperatures and I rush home to take cover.

I take a warm shower.

I dress in jeans and a sweatshirt before heading back out.  I briefly contemplate the merits of a scarf and decide against it.  I couldn’t find any warm hats, I figure the hood should do.

Moments later we’re in the upper campus of UCSC. 4 people, 1 flashlight, traveling under a dark canopy of trees along trails that weave and wave and cross into themselves.  We’re walking under a cloudless, moonless, night.  Overhead, Perseids caught fire and lit streaks in the sky.

There was Adam, from the first week, Chang, from the second, and Hannah, whom I’d met just then.   Boy-girl-boy-girl, all lined up, on our backs on the gravel path in the center of a clearing (I wanted the whole sky).  I showed them Vega (V magnitude 0).  And the summer triangle.  Cygnus the Swan and Aquila the Eagle.  The dolphin, the north star, the dippers, the center of the milky way galaxy.  The planets, the zodiacs.  Cassiopeia belching stars.  The North American summer sky I committed to memory earlier this summer.

I’ve been here for two and a half weeks.  I’m still looking for something to hold on to.

I got word today that Santa Cruz is on fire.  3200 acres have burned.  A friend called to say he’s been evacuated and to ask if he could move some stuff down to the house.  Beautiful Bonny Doon is burning in the biggest fire in its 100 years of record keeping.  The pool we were swimming in 4 days ago will be drained if necessary and sprayed into the neighboring trees.

They say the Moon Rocks burned this time last year.  Lit by some bums and a cigarette or campfire or something.  I’d think this one might have been lit by a meteor.


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