We were lucky here in Malibu. More than 4,500 acres burned, we lost homes and businesses and a church, but we look at the fires to the north and to the south of here and know things could have been so much worse.
Go anywhere in town and people share war stories - where they were when the flames appeared, what happened next. But even those with the scariest tales, of scorched roofs and burning decks, of daredevil water drops in narrow canyons, of valiant firefighters facing walls of flame, even they'll tell you how lucky we were.
As the firefighters left town over the last few days, Malibu did its best to show its gratitude. Restaurants and cafes and grocery stores often refused their cash. Fancy hotels opened their doors for free. Residents shouted thank yous and cheered as the engines rolled by. (A few firefighers even got the papparazzi treatment at Nobu, a singularly bizarre form of respect.)
I was among those cheering and waving, and because I've got this little forum, I want to say it in print - thank you to the firefighters who left their own homes and families and risked their lives to save ours. This work you do, it's extraordinary.
Thanks also to the many readers who sent e-mails of encouragement and concern. I heard from people across the street and across the world, from New York and Iowa and Oregon, Belize and Paris and Detroit. It was lovely to hear from all of you, to know the updates on the blog were actually useful, and to learn how many people truly love Malibu.