Sleeping with Wolves

John McManamy Health Guide
  • Wednesday morning, 40 miles east of San Diego: I hear someone knocking on my door. It is 6 AM. It can only mean one thing - evacuation. The fires down the hill must have changed direction and are charging up at us.


    I am shaking the sleep from my head as I open the door. It is not the sheriff or other authority figure. A lady in an Oakland Raiders windbreaker introduces herself as a friend of Paul, my housemate (who is away on business). Jane has been ordered out of her home in Julian, 20 miles away. The shifting winds there have turned one of the fires on her community. Her pickup and a trailer hitch are loaded with portable kennels. She is accompanied by a teen-ager named Robbie.

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    I get out a flashlight, and we start unloading. Cats in the back room. Three African Serval cats, with physiques and markings resembling spotted leopards, in the living room. Two wolves in the garage-tool shed. You heard it right. Two wolves.


    Jane's house in Julian burned down in the 2003 fire. Now she is living off the grid in a place nearby. She trims and removes trees for a living. Business has not been good. The fires are feeding off the trees.


    Jane is extremely relieved that the animals are settled down and safe. She and Robbie head back to Julian to collect personal items.


    The fierce westerly Santa Ana winds are dying down, which should give firefighters a chance at containing the many fires that have broken out in the San Diego area. But a new threat looms. As the seasonal winds die down, winds coming in from the Pacific may push one of the fires back our way. All we can do is wait.


    Two people have been killed, 1,500 homes have been destroyed, and more than 4,000 square acres scorched. Nearly one million people have been evacuated.

Published On: October 24, 2007