I came across this Letter to the Editor in the Times yesterday, and wanted to share it. As the writer says, this event is absurd in a way that seems somehow particularly California. Here's the letter, copied from the Times website:
To the Editor:
It was evening of the third day of fires whipped by the infamous Santa Ana winds. It felt like sunset on another planet as I saw a truck drive slowly by with a driver staring up at the palm tree in our front yard.
Later, there was a knock on the door. I answered. It was the truck driver. He offered to buy the palm tree in our front yard.
There was an eerie silence as I stood there in the orange smoky haze, ashes falling like snow on Mercury, and blinked two or maybe three times.
By motivation, this had absolutely nothing to do with the fire — it just seemed like something that would happen in Southern California.
As I quietly closed the door, I thought about Joan Didion; she would understand this.
San Diego, Oct. 24, 2007