I have made two new friends since the Camp Fire.
One is named Molly. The other I shall call Frank (I never learned his name). Both are significant reminders of the aftermath of the wildfire. Or, both might simply be frauds taking advantage of the moment. I am an easy person.
I ran into Frank about a month ago, walking through the Chapman neighborhood carrying a gas can. He was headed in the wrong direction. I gave him a ride up to a station on East Eighth Street, and gave him some money to fill his gas can.
He was sharing a friend’s rental in Paradise when the fire came down the Ridge. He got out with an old VW and not much else.
On a recent evening, as the temperature dipped toward freezing, Frank knocked on my door near bedtime. He asked if I could loan him some money for gas. He and his partner were living in the VW and using the heater to keep it warm.
I first noticed Molly more than a month ago. We have a “half cat,” a male stray that we and another neighbor feed. He is black and white. Then, we began noticing another black and white feline, and this one seemed shy and wary but not feral. What seemed remarkable was that our resident cats had accepted this newcomer.
After a couple of weeks of negotiation, she simply walked in the door one evening and has never left. I named her Molly. She is a sweet, mature cat who clearly was someone’s pet. My personal theory is Molly was a Camp Fire refugee and then walked away from a temporary home, which was possibly the fairgrounds just south of us.
An effort was made to find her former family, but reunification of Camp Fire cats and families is difficult.
Molly is here to stay. She sleeps with two other older female cats. She has a home.
Frank still lives in his old VW. That is his home.