We rejoiced over our arrival here in Seattle in early July, when we discovered our amazing view of downtown across Elliott Bay. But look at it now.
The weather report is weird: “77 degrees, Smoke.”
Honey Girl and I went for our walk as usual this evening and my eyes have been burning ever since. It is a very strange sensation to live in smoke. The neighbors I talked to on my walk all seemed kind of rattled by this too. “Where there’s smoke there’s fire,” we think anxiously, but it does not make any sense. We’re surrounded by water on three sides!
(map of West Seattle)
One of my favorite children’s books has a harrowing forest fire scene that I’ve never forgotten. It’s not Bambi, it’s Smokey the Bear.
I so love this book. As you see, when the fire engulfs the little bear cub, separating him from his mother, Smokey follows his mom’s advice: “When danger threatens, climb a tree.”
But still, it is a traumatic experience! The text reads: “So up a pine tree Bear Cub went. Around him the forest fire roared and crackled. Flames licked at Bear Cub’s shaggy fur and singed his tender paws. But he closed his eyes and just hung on. When he opened his eyes again after a while, he could scarcely believe what he saw. Instead of the cool, green, shady woods, all around him stood hundreds of ugly blackened sticks with trails of smoke still curling from them.”
The scene where the forest ranger’s daughter gets to play with Smokey was always my favorite. What a dream come true to play with a living Teddy bear!
However, the shrewd critic might point out a few flaws in this tragi-comedy. Where is Smokey’s mother, for example? And what about Bambi and Dumbo? Why do writers of children’s literature dispense with mothers so often?
Maybe because the kids secretly wish for that…
Then there’s the little problem of watching Smokey grow into a grown-up man-cub. Like the female creature dreamed up, then destroyed, in Shelley’s Frankenstein, the grown-up Smokey of reality might not be quite so nice…
Wish it would rain.