If there were brush fires in the mountains, we could see the red lines of fire appear as they crested a ridge or vanish as the dropped into a canyon, but the fire was always pale compared to the glittering lights of suburbia spread across the valley floor. Life always went on, despite the flames devouring the mountainous brushland, and sometimes houses in the foothills, and despite the almost daily blanket of air pollution that was sometimes so thick that one could see only a mile or two from the hills.
I don't know what it was about today that brought those long-vanished images to mind. There are not fires here yet this year, and the last of the fruit trees in this yard died a few years ago. Maybe it was just he withering flowers. That time has withered, I haven't seen any of those friends who shared that neighborhood in decades, and more than a few of them are dead. I don't recall experiencing frequent melancholy on those days, but now and then it would make a brief intrusion into the general placidity of childhood. Perhaps one of those intrusions was a premonition of today.