Berkeley Marina

Berkeley Marina

Evacuated again, and another repeat of three years ago, fleeing our home in the dark amid raging winds, with pink and red fire plumes billowing around us.

The car was filled with computers and photo albums and hastily packed suitcases.

We’re safe though.

This one is called the Glass Fire, named after some mountain road near the fire’s origin. It has burned all week, destroyed homes and wineries and parks, and continues to burn. It is only 5% contained, despite unending acts of heroism. The cause is under investigation.

The fire came within ten miles of our home, but has fortunately steered in the opposite direction. Many people were not so lucky.

As many of you know, water is the soothing attraction when Athena and I encounter the threat of fires. This time we found ourselves down at the Berkeley Marina. Our dear friends in Berkeley opened their adjacent cottage to us, fed us meals and cheered us up, always masked and from a safe distance.

Down at the San Francisco Bay, the fog was coming in, cool and refreshing. You can see it on the horizon (center).

Berkeley Marina

Bay Area cities like Berkeley often get the ashes and smoke of our fires from the north. This time, however, the winds were in a different direction and we were blessed with cool fog and fresh air. I’ve heard the toxic miasma has since arrived.

The boats are moored in a quiet inlet, but just around the corner is the big bay. It was windy, the water had white caps. The driving wind is what is wreaking havoc on the fires.

You can see San Francisco across the bay, and the fog.

San Francisco from the Berkeley Marina

Berkeley pier, fog in the background. Hidden beneath the fog is the Golden Gate Bridge.

We were evacuated for three nights, but are back home now. We have a home to return to, a wonderful thing. The air is choked with smoke and toxins because the fires are still raging. We may need to evacuate again, are prepared to flee.

We soldier on, and this will end, but meanwhile we are grateful for the love and friendships of you, our friends, and the smiles of strangers. I can see the smiles, even under the face masks.

Written by Jet Eliot.

Photos by Athena Alexander.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, taken at a different time.

90 thoughts on “Berkeley Marina

  1. I absolutely love this post, so filled with familiarity and nostalgia. I lived in or around Berkeley for the three years I was in graduate school there, and this marina was as familiar as any part of the city. I wasn’t yet a sailor, but the marinas and boats on the Bay still were pleasing, and the hills above the marina were the perfect place for fog-watching!

    I’m sorry to hear that you’re displaced again, but like those of us who live in hurricane country, you clearly have the routines of evacuation down. Let’s hope it’s a good while — a VERY good while — before you have to put them in practice again.

    • Yes, Berkeley is a world, and a wonderful one. I’m glad you lived there while at school, Linda, and glad these photos brought back your time there. Thanks for your kind words.

  2. Dear Jet, it’s so frightening. The persistence of fires are what made me give up the dream I held for decades of moving there. Thank you for taking time to let us know you and yours are safe. As an agoraphobic, I understand how overjoyed you must have been to find your home still there. Prayers for continued safety and wellbeing. Hugs on the wing.

  3. I was thinking about you and Athena two days ago, wondering how you were making out with the fires nearby. Glad to hear you made it through this evacuation, prayers the fires avoid your area to keep your home safe. This year has become trying times for everyone in so many ways. You both stay safe, stay healthy. 🙏

    • Always a pleasure to hear from you, Donna, and your kind thoughts and concern are appreciated. Yes, it has been a trying year for all of us, but the love of friends and family helps us through these trials. My warmest thanks to you, my friend.

  4. It is heart-rending to see how many fires are still raging in California and your poignant narrative, Jet, helps me put a human face on this tragedy. It is good to hear that you and Athena are ok for the moment–it must be tough to remain psychologically and physically prepared for another evacuation. Best wishes and prayers for your safety during this time of turmoil and troubles.

    • My deep thanks for your warm words, Mike. You’re right, it is tough to remain prepared to flee, it is wearing. It is only in the last five years or so that the fires have been so unrelenting, and it is difficult to watch and live with. But we keep going, and time and the joy of life, and the love of friends and family, bring us through. Thanks so much, my friend.

    • Dear Craig, thanks for your concern and kind words. It’s not been an easy week, but we didn’t lose our lives or our home, and kindness from friends like you goes a long way.

  5. A friend in the south bay has been keeping me in the loop and we’re talking air filter systems now since we too have the smoke from the fires here in NV.

    I am glad you and Athena are safe and home again. I hope the firefighters can knock this fire down and they too stay safe.

    • Yes, those air purifiers work wonders. We have two big ones (Honeywell) that are making it possible for us to breathe, as long as we keep all the doors and windows shut and sealed. We couldn’t find any in a one-hundred-mile radius, but there was a Home Depot in Ohio that sent them to us. Thank you, Deborah, for your visit and kindness.

  6. OM Gosh Jet! I’m so glad you guys got away from the smoke and that your home is intact! I hope you don’t have to flee again, and that the fires will be contained very soon. I’ve never seen anything like this in all of my years, be safe! ❤️😎

    • It is a staggering series of events, to be sure. I’ve never seen anything like it either, John. But yes, we are fine, and I too hope we don’t have to flee again. Thanks so very much, my friend.

    • Yes, the community is devastated right now, as we were just getting the houses and businesses rebuilt after the last big fire. But we hope, like you, that the fires are under control soon. Thank you, Donnal

  7. 2020 just continues to rage on in all directions. I’m so glad to here you’ve been spared another tragedy and hope those fires are put out soon. All the best to you and Athena … stay safe!

    • Your kind words are much appreciated, Ingrid. We are lucky to have our home intact this time, and we hope the fires will be over soon. My warmest thanks to you, and a big smile, too.

  8. I will stop complaining about the smoke that is hovering over us way up here on Vancouver Island. You’re in a much worse situation. Good to hear that you’re safe, although I would bet that you’re not sleeping well. At least you already have your most important items packed and ready to go. I hope these fires will end soon and life can return to normal. Stay safe.

    • The smoke is awful, and I appreciate it is troubling up on VI, too. And you’re right, I’m not sleeping well, but hopefully this will be over sometime soon. I know you’ll do all kinds of creative projects indoors while the air outside is unhealthy. Many thanks, Anneli.

  9. Oh my heavens! Jet we are so grateful for the update as we have been very concerned since the media began reporting this new fire. It is difficult to imagine the stress of yet again having to flee amidst such frightening conditions. Dave wonders is there anything left to burn? It seems there has been such massive fires in the area year after year.
    Stay safe and our gratitude to you for sharing your situation. We will keep you and Athena close in our hearts.

    • These update posts are very difficult to write, as my spirit flags, but I do so I can report to friends like you who wonder about our safety. I am grateful for your concern, Sue and Dave. Glad I could write that our house remains intact this time. Yes, there is plenty to burn. Although much of the big oaks and firs are gone, the fires swirl in unpredictable ways, leaving some trees standing even when others burn. Also, invasive grasses and plants shoot up and crowd, and are flammable. Thanks so very much for your friendship and support.

    • Yes, thank goodness for our friends. With Covid, the evacuation centers and hotels don’t seem very safe, and here we have our own little cottage. You, too, stay safe, Jan. I have no doubt that your air is almost unbreathable.

  10. I’m relieved to hear you and Athena are safe and could return home, I hope the fire can be contained soon and fresh air and clear skies will return as well. Stay safe and be well ❤️

  11. This has been such a challenging year – sorry you are facing new fire threats. I like that you ended with a vision of more normal days with clear skies to invoke similar in the future.

    • Yes, I’m glad you noticed that final photo and the message, Eliza. We keep going and keep our chins up, and soon things will be okay again. My warm thanks for your lovely visit.

  12. Not again! Please no! Get rid of your Governor, It’s time! Generally, forests need care, to be maintained, clear of snags, dry bushes, fallen trees etc. If people want to be living near forests, must do what I mentioned otherwise Nature will do it more severely. Fires are good for forests but not for cities. Take care my friend! 🙂

  13. So sorry to read that you’ve had to leave your home again – and so soon after the last time. I hope the fires peter out, or are brought under control, very soon and the air becomes fresh and clear for you, Alexander and all your neighbours. Take care.

  14. Glad you and your home are safe and praying that’s the status quo. So many have lost everything. It must have been such a joy to breathe fresh, clean air. I’ve seen photos of San Francisco that look apocalyptic!

    janet

    • Yes, it does have an apocalyptic look here, and we hope for better air and rains soon. You’re right, it was a true joy to breathe fresh, clean air, something we often take for granted in this country. Thank you for your kind words and wishes, Janet.

  15. Oh, Jet, we’re sending good wishes and hopes you both stay safe, as well as your friends and neighbours. Silver lining? Tough times reveal you’ve got lovely friends.
    Take care.
    X

    • Yes, there is always a silver lining and boy is it ever evident when you are kicked out of your house in the middle of the night and your friends say, in the middle of a pandemic, you are welcome here. My warmest thanks for your lovely words and sentiments, pc, much appreciated.

  16. Having grown up in the Bay Area, it’s so nice to see and read about some of my old haunts! Please stay safe though – sending good thoughts for an end to one especially lousy fire season…

  17. I am very sorry for the repeated threat you and Athena have to deal with. I wish you well and hope peace and nature return quickly to you soul and surroundings. Best wishes my friend. tom

  18. i’m sorry, Jet but i’m glad that you and Athena are back home. i will keep you both close to my heart and will continue praying for your safety. take care.

  19. So very sorry you had to evacuate again – so trying, scary and nerve racking. Glad you are back home and safe. Stay safe

    • It’s interesting that I still feel the comfort of that post-fire week when you and N came out to help us build a path through our destroyed property. Your kindness then and now are embraced and appreciated.

  20. I follow the fires in California…always thinking of you and Athena….and read about the Glass fire. Thank goodness you are both safe and that you have all your computers, files etc. and thank goodness that you have good friends to retreat to, and yes, water – soothing water.

    Please stay safe and like all of life, taking things one day at a time….even one hour at a time. We all need to shift our thinking and take action to try to make things better. Sending you love and of course the unseen energy of the magical hummingbirds. Janet X

    • Very nice to receive your support and kind words, Janet, thank you. The fires continue to ravage the area, roads are blocked, businesses are closed, and people are devastated. The air is still unbreathable so we all try to find a way to breathe and find healthy air, so yes, one hour at a time, one day at a time is the mode right now. At this moment I am in a friend’s garden listening to one of my favorite songbirds, the cedar waxwing. They’re eating pyracanthra berries next door. It’s a lovely moment, and I’m grateful to share it with you.

  21. The fires sound terrifying, but I’m relieved to know you are safe and that you have a refuge with your friends. I think I would head for the water if I needed to evacuate, too. (Opposite of heading inland when a hurricane threatens…) Take care and stay safe, my friend!

    • Yes, heading for the water didn’t start out to be a conscious effort, it was just attractive and soothing so we went there. Now that we’ve had a bit more experience with these new kinds of climate change fires, I’m seeing that heading for the water doesn’t even take a thought but just a car. Please know, Barbara, that I really enjoy your visits to the seaside, too. My warmest thanks.

  22. Oh dear, Jet (& Athena)… how horrible! So glad you’re both safe and your home is, too. But to go through evacuating and breathing that toxic sludge. My heart hurts for you. I do know what it’s like unfortunately. May some gentle soothing rains arrive and stick around for awhile.
    Hugs and good wishes! ❤

    • Forgot about the ankle…. how has that been doing? That can’t have been much fun amidst the rest of the turmoil.
      Extra hugs being sent your way! (Covid compliant of course!)

      • Hi Gunta, I smiled at your Covid-compliant hugs, thank you. Thanks, too, for your encouraging words. Today the air is breathable and I even went outside. My ankle’s healing. I am working on walking and the dr. says I’m right on track. My deepest thanks.

  23. Jet, I am so sorry you have to go through this horrible stress. What is happening out in California shocks me …. I cannot believe how many fires there have been and yes, IMO, it is quite suspicious and there should be investigations. How my heart goes out to those who have lost their homes. To pick and choose what to bring with you not knowing if what you leave behind will remain, must be heart crushing. SO relieved you and Athena are all right!! xo

    • Thank you for your warm message, Amy. Yes, these are trying times. We are seeing the effects of climate change in real time, and it is difficult. But we will figure out what needs to be done, and at the moment there is no fire in our front yard, so thinking is possible. Air quality is good today too, as the fog came in. Sending my thanks and best wishes to you.

  24. Such an anxious time for you both. It must have been awful to have to flee your home not knowing whether it would be spared from the fires. So happy that you’re now back again. As you say, some people weren’t as fortunate. What a year this has turned out to be in every way. Love the calming photos of the marina. Stay safe. 🤗

    • Hi Sylvia, wonderful to hear from you, and I appreciate your thoughtful words. It is better this week, the air, and for once no evacuating this weekend. yay. Thanks so much.

  25. Wow, a column on the Berkeley Marina. What a delightful surprise, albeit a week later for me. Thanks for sharing. So very glad that you are safe and that your property escaped the ravages of the flames.

    • Yes, it’s rare that I spend time down at the Berkeley Marina, but circumstances brought me there and it was a joy. I love to visit marinas, and am glad I could have the pleasure of you vicariously joining me. Thanks so much, Terry, lovely to see you today.

    • Yes, it’s a scary business, evacuating and nearby fires. We’re going to have to figure out ways to change things, as the climate change asserts itself, but in the meantime…yikes. Many thanks, Cynthia.

    • Yes, we were blessed to have a place to go to in the middle of the night, and their garden and town for the next few days. I’m glad you enjoyed the visit to Berkeley, it is a city I know you would enjoy. We’re fine now, thank goodness.

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