I am feeling homesick for a place I left over 10 years ago. Large parts of San Diego County are burning and it makes me sad. I'm not wishing that I was there to lose a home (or worse), but I feel a strong attachment to San Diego, especially when there are fires. Most of my research has focused on wildfire- from my Master's thesis to dissertation to more recent work. Every time I hear about a big fire out west, it reminds me that I am out of loop. I don't live out there any more. I don't do research out there any more. And it makes me sad. I emailed a friend from grad school today to see if he had heard about the fires yet, and his reaction was "I have done field work in every site shown in these maps. It makes me want to get down there!" I feel exactly the same way! In 2003, most of my Master's thesis study area burned to the ground and I felt strange to be here in the deciduous forest and corn fields of the Midwest. I guess I just feel displaced. The Grant will take my research in a completely different direction (i.e, NOT fire) and I am excited about it. But I am also sad to get away from my first love- the research that got me through graduate school after piquing my interest as an undergrad (especially when a family I babysat for lost their house in a Southern California wildfire). I visited their neighborhood shortly after they let people back in and it was truly shocking to see the burned out houses and cars.
Now, I know that some of you will comment and suggest that I collaborate with some researchers out west and start some work out there, but I have not found that to be an easy thing to do. I don't really have any good connections left out there AND there are plenty of other things I would like to do in THIS part of the country, too. It's just that fire is not going to be one of them. Sigh. I'll just go back to checking online maps and images to see just how bad it is- and it sounds pretty awful- last I heard they are estimating 500,000 people being evacuated in So Cal. My thoughts are with them- I hope they stay safe.