Gray-green leaves rattled in the wind. Eucalyptus trees
were still standing, unscathed,
even though the fire had come so close.

Weeks later, after the rain had stopped and a cold wind had started up, we drove to Oakland, up to the hills, and surveyed the damage on a street so narrow that Tom had to back the van out when we left. One house, untouched. Next door, all that remained was a scarred foundation.

"This'll mean jobs for a lot of people," Tom said, meaning himself too. "All this," and he swept his hand wide, "means construction work."

If I could record that gesture, I would see just what I want to see. It is a wholly unsentimental moment.

I would use it then as a point of reference, like a scar.

But it's not really like that at all.

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