literally lousy

When we woke up this morning, the plume of smoke that had been rising steadily from the hills had dissipated, so we had breakfast and headed home. Things seemed more or less normal when we got back, save the seething smoke above us. We soon noticed, though, that the fire was not out yet.

There were four fires that started yesterday, actually, all around this area. Unfortunately, one of the fires was apparently close to a village, and destroyed people’s homes. In the papers, they say that arson is suspected. That is certainly the theory being bandied about on the porches and through car windows. There are theories about who might have started the fires, but for the moment it’s all gossip and speculation.
And while all of this has been unfolding, a smaller crisis has been brewing. I sat in the kitchen trying to get Baki to do his journal (his summer homework), and something about the crown of his head made me pull him closer and start rooting around in his hair.
I should mention at this point, that I had lice enough times as a kid to I remember it all in vivid, painful detail. I always had long hair as a school girl, and the dreaded metal comb was my mortal enemy. That, and the stinky shampoo poison. Lice is a pain, and with Baki now in school, it is never far from my mind. So as I went leafing through Baki’s hair, I knew exactly what I was looking for. To my chagrin, I found it; Baki has lice.
I immediately got Baki to wash his hair while I went to retrieve that very same metal comb that for some reason my mother never threw away and that I then kept as a grim trophy. (So in case you were wondering what it’s like to be a person who never throws anything away, there’s one answer.) Combing revealed irrefutable evidence. I hate the way lice look.
Ali and I immediately got creepy crawly itchy heads, of course. He read in the invaluable Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine that cider vinegar is effective against lice, so I doused all our head and we felt a little better. (Bartram’s also listed a traditional Russian remedy whereby the head is doused in vodka, which is then left to dry. This sounded exciting, but unfortunately, we didn’t have any vodka on hand.) Then Kaya and I went off to town to get something to kill the lice.
When we got back, and Baki was doused, we spent the rest of the afternoon watching the helicopters passing overhead.

They continued until nightfall, and the fire above us seems to be more or less out. We’ll see in the morning. The wild birds aren’t taking any chances; as I planted out some brassica seedlings, there were fleets of them descending from the hills above, stopping to rest in the big old pine in the middle of the garden before continuing downward.
And we read that tea tree oil is also used against lice, so I made a spray with cider vinegar and tea tree oil. The spray bottle I used had been holding eucalyptus oil spray to repel Lulu’s fleas, so we all smell like cough drops now.
Good night!

Not so quiet a Sunday

Ali heard it before he saw it. And then he said three words that changed our day from any other uneventful Sunday into, well, an eventful sort of day. It was around 10:30. “There’s a fire!”
I was just getting some kitchen work done, having put Kaya down for a nap. I went out into the garden and looked up into the hills and saw this:

Which was ominous enough a sight, but when I looked harder at the area out beyond the wild pear tree, I saw this:

And my heart gave a lurch. Forest fires break out every summer, and we are always as careful as we can be. The shepherds around here, I am sure I have mentioned in the past, spit into their hands to put out a cigarette, never leaving it up to chance. We always hope that when they break out, they won’t be too close.
We always said that we would leave if there was any sign of a fire, so that is what we prepared to do. Not knowing what to take, I grabbed our passports and birth certificates, and Ali took the papers for our application for a title deed to our land and I got Kaya out of bed and we all went to the car. Ali had called one of the neighbors who told him that the forest fire department said they’d be around in five minutes or so, and we could hear the plane approaching as we left. We saw the first plane as we stood talking to the neighbor on the road:

Then we took one last look before we headed down:

We went down to Sundance Camp where our friends were waiting. They had seen the smoke from there. We had some tea, Baki played with a new friend, we eventually had lunch, and I took the boys to the sea, thinking that it would get our minds off things. Not so much, though, since the first thing we saw when we got to the shore was the smoke:

Every ten minutes or so, we heard the planes or the helicopter approaching the sea to get more water:

Ali went up to check on things while we were at the shore, but I had left my mobile phone behind when we left, so I had no way of reaching him. So I waited. He finally came back down at around 5, saying that the fire was still spreading. We decided to go back up together, but thought that we would probably stay the night at Sundance, just to be on the safe side. When we returned, things didn’t look too different from a distance:

The garden was fine, if a bit smoky. We watered the greenhouse, made sure the chickens were fed and watered and that Damla the cat and Lulu the dog had bowls of food. The animals were all calm, which was reassuring. We took some toothbrushes and clothes, and headed back down, leaving matters in the hands of the foresters:

It doesn’t look like we are in any immediate danger, and if our luck holds out things should be back to normal soon. We’ll go back up tomorrow morning, at any rate. Luckily, the area where the fire broke out is not populated; I think we are the nearest people to it. Still, it has been a heck of a day, and a stern reminder not to take anything for granted, especially not things like uneventful Sundays!