This is how the fire looked from our back porch.
I wrote this and sent it to The Independent:
I can't read music. But someone out there, someone who may have spent their days and nights, playing and composing it, must be mourning a loss.
Early friday morning, I walked outside my home on the Westside of Santa Barbara and looked up toward the Riviera at the smoke, as it billowed and spread it's grey cloud toward the Pacific.
At my bare feet was ash, not minute particles, not some grey dust that accumulated in the crevasses of my porch steps, but pieces, pieces I could pick up, I could hold in my hand....pieces of someone's home, their life, it lay at my feet, subject to the slightest breeze.
I looked again at the smoke that hung over the foothills and shook my head. How I wish I could gather these fragments of someone's life and miraculously transform them back in time...just a day.
Television brought the fire into my home. The local news, its constant coverage, kept me informed. My husband spent the night of the fire, on the roof of the house we are building on the Eastside, watching flames expand and contract, waxing and waning, their way past our home. It was spared.
We loss nothing but sleep. But on the ground, outside, my daughter picked up a piece of fragile, charred paper...and there, if you looked closely was a single musical note on a ledger line. Just one note, but enough paper to see that there were others...the day before there were others. The day before this was a composition. The day before this may have sat on a desk, or in a folder, or on a music stand. Today it was on the ground, charred and unrecognizable.
I can't read music, but I carefully placed this slight piece of fragile paper in my day planner. Whomever lost this will most likely not think of it, amidst all the things they lost in that fire. Whatever the song, the tempo, it has transformed into a silent reminder that so many people lost so much.