At 8 in the evening, it must be still 100 °F outside. I almost want Gerald Durrell here next to me describing chirping cicadas, for, apart from the occasional barking dog, it is almost all one can hear. Everything is too hot, even my car, which spluttered its way to 30mph when I started it up again this afternoon in Burbank after a day at the horse show. It was easily 108°F in Burbank and both horses and riders were drooping as they jumped around. Infrequent blasts of breeze, just faint blows of wind, carry smoke from the fires above La Canada and farther away in Azuza. The air is thick with smoke and ash, and we're all coughing and sneezing. My house is air conditioned (a brilliant idea indeed to fix it this spring) but as if by habit I threw open all the doors and windows on my return home, hoping somehow that the air would miraculously cool down as dusk turned into evening. It hasn't. The earth is parched and brown, the sky still and pink shot with brown, beautiful but without any movement, like a stagnant stream. I find myself wishing for those foggy nearly-autumn mornings of last week, with the low clouds and the moisturized air.
Driving up Wrightwood from Universal City to Mulholland, my favorite short cut, we could see the flames licking the tops of the mountains to the east. Not just thick brown smoke, but bright red fires, clearly defined although 20 miles away. Everything feels suppressed, still, dry and disastrous. Brainstems are overheating. Dogs are overheating. There is dust and ash everywhere.