A California Miracle



By Sigrid Weidenweber

When the Santa Anas blow—Californians begin to pray or fret. Fires, set by fiends or started by sparks out of people’s control, once becoming flame are instantly fanned into roaring infernos consuming everything—brush, homes and lives.

On Thursday, November 8th, 2018 I received a call from my daughter at 7 p.m. She was stuck on Westlake Blvd., my young grandson with her in the car. What usually was a commute of a few minutes had turned into a mind-numbing exercise. The traffic problem on Westlake Blvd. was, of course, caused by fire, closing the 101, forcing people onto the back roads. We decided the two of them should spend the night. I loved having the company and we bedded down, very relaxed, for the night.

The wind had gained in strength during the early evening. Therefore, I felt compelled to walk out on the patio in my backyard when I awoke around 2:00 p.m. I stopped in mid-stride. Above me, the ridge of the hill next to our development, was crowned with thirty-foot high flames. I must mention here that behind our homes hundreds of acres of wilderness that stretches all the way to the horizon. There was no denying reality. In a few minutes an inferno would engulf the entire area.

Fortunately, my daughter, too, assessed the situation as I did and without hesitation we collected necessities and fled in a hurry. I could not understand why we had received no warning to evacuate. The neighborhood seemed cleared, de-peopled.

I never heard an all-clear. But two days later I decided to go back to my neighborhood. My son-in-law came with me—protection. As we drove up Westlake Blvd. from Avenida de Los Arboles, we were stunned. Black, burned chaparral rimmed the houses on both sides of the boulevard.  However, none of the homes had sustained damage. How was that possible we asked ourselves?

Whom to attribute the miracle to? Our wonderful fire departments, first responders, a deity or the well-maintained green strips around our abodes? Who knows? We will ponder this mystery for a while. In the meantime, I and my neighbors are just superbly grateful for standing homes.

I, for one, have now truly become a Californian. For you are not quite one of the people if not properly initiated in California’s traumas. It has to hit you hard, personally. You must experience loss—either your own or your friends and neighbors to totally feel what these people feel and are made of. They are—like many of their ancestors—hardy pioneer stock.

Sigrid Weidenweber grew up in communist East Berlin, escaping it using a French passport. Ms. Weindenweber holds a degree in medical technology as well as psychology and has course work in Anthropology.  She is co-founder of Aid for Afghans.  Weindenweber has traveled the world and lived with Pakistani Muslims, learning about the culture and religion. She is a published author and lecturer.

You can find her books on Amazon.com

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