Mt. Diablo: Last time, it was personal

The Morgan Fire burns on Mt. Diablo -- photo by Andy Alfaro, Associated Press

In the early hours on Aug. 2, 1977, my parents left their home in Benicia and raced across the bridge into Contra Costa County.

Their destination: Kaiser Hospital in Walnut Creek, where I would be delivered just before dawn that morning.

It was a memorable drive, but for more than one reason. Hours earlier lightning struck Mt. Diablo, igniting steep brushy slopes that were primed to burn at the peak of California’s most severe drought on record. Six thousand acres would burn over the next five days.

And so Diablo glowed like Mount Doom that night, providing a spectacular view for anyone driving into the area.

Naturally, I heard this story over and over again as I grew up, particularly on birthdays. The most popular version included the theory that the flames were some kind of sign portending my birth, like the star and the Wise Men, or something. Perhaps I was destined to do great things.

Or so my mother hoped. By now she must be having doubts.

But last night, scrolling through the Morgan Fire photos posted to social media websites, I could almost “remember” the night I was born. In a Facebook post this morning, Mom said she was remembering, too.

I wonder who will be born tonight under the glow of Diablo’s latest drama.

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