My grandmother used to say, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.”
As a child, I couldn’t see why God would find that so funny. But that was before I was old enough to make plans.
As an adult, I often think I probably keep God in stitches. But there was nothing funny in our latest change of plans.
Recently, my husband and I were looking forward to going to Los Angeles for a few days to see my son and his wife and their, oh, so adorable 6-month-old.
Those plans were put on hold when we realized we might need to stay home and pack the contents of our freezer and fridge on ice in a cooler.
On Wednesday morning, Oct. 9, with weather forecasts in California calling for extreme winds and low humidity — conditions that would dramatically raise an already high risk of wildfires — Pacific Gas & Electric shut off power to some 700,000 homes or businesses in more than 30 counties in Northern California.
We expected Monterey County, where we live, to be included, but the outage only extended as far south as Silicon Valley. Initially, it was thought it might last a week, but power was restored to most by Friday.
With a sigh of relief, we decided to go to LA after all. We planned to leave Saturday for the five-hour drive. But Thursday night, before bed, I saw a news report about a small wildfire burning near Sylmar, 20 miles west of my son’s home.
I started to call him, but didn’t want to wake them. And I didn’t want to seem overly protective, which my kids always say I am.
The next morning I woke early to check the news. The fire had exploded overnight, moving west, closing several highways and forcing evacuations. Winds were gusting over 70 mph.
I called my son. No answer. I left a message: “Call me.”
Minutes later, when he called back, I could hear my grandson babbling in the background.
My son assured me they were in no danger, and if that changed, they would leave.
I believed him. When it comes to his wife and child, the boy is even more protective than I am.
We agreed it was not a good time to visit, and not just because of the fire and the smoke. Traffic in LA is always bad, but with multiple road closures and 100,000 people under mandatory evacuation orders, it would be insane.
“Keep me posted?” I said, and he promised he would.
While people in Los Angeles fled from the fire, I followed news reports online, from the comfort and safety of my home.
At the same time, 1,000 personnel from Los Angeles’ city and county fire departments, along with crews from CalFire, worked past exhaustion — many of them risking their lives — to stop an inferno and save countless lives and homes.
I’ve always been in awe of the kind of person who is willing to risk everything — to run toward danger, rather than away from it — simply for the good of others.
I wanted to thank them, and their families, personally; to hug their necks and feed them pizza and tell them that they are heroes. They probably already know that. I surely hope so.
On Saturday, the weather cooled, the winds calmed, the fire was about 40 percent contained, and the evacuation orders were lifted.
I’ve never been forced to leave my home, but I’ve known others who’ve had to flee from fires or floods or storms. It’s a sobering reminder of how precious life is, and how quickly it can change.
We will go see my son and his family soon, I hope. As my grandmother would say, “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.”
Randall is a longtime newspaper columnist who may be contacted at P.O. Box 416, Pacific Grove CA 93950, or via her website, www.sharonrandall.com.