The rosiest evening of the year. Earlier the sun RED and the sky strange and bilious, both from leaden smoke clouds and yellowed air. With so much suspended particulate, the air, the space between objects, has a certain incandescence and ominous presence. Now sundown and the smoke-filled clouds hold the red hue . . . The night is still and rare as a night can ever be, the light transformed by a hundred wildfires. Elsewhere there is rain and flood, late snow, death by unexpected tornado, earthquake and cyclone, but California burns, the life carbon of a thousand trees, a billion leaves hangs in the air . . . It is a night to remember. Everything luminescent. Then gray. Then white . . . like a particular omen I can’t comprehend.
I wrote the above about two weeks ago, and California still burns, the air still smoke-filled, at least in the north where I live, the hundred wildfires multiplied in the ensuing days to over a thousand due to lightning storms and drought. Dry lightning now forms part of our communal vocabulary, a lightning unaccompanied by quenching rain whose strikes spark a slow smolder, embers that can ignite in a day or two or three when wind and fuel unite. Smoke still colors each day, sometimes heavy, at others a pale yellowish-gray haze hangs. I don’t live close enough to any of the big fires to have seen them, though I had to drive by a small blaze that had ignited along Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz mountains but was contained in a day.
The smoke accompanies otherwise normal daily living, at least in the areas not threatened by flame. Most people in the Bay Area disregard the health warnings and jog, work and bicycle outdoors as always. The sounds of construction and suburban gardeners continue. The new dry lightning predicted for this past weekend failed to materialize and in spite of areas of smoke and the continued drought, officials seem confident the fires will be contained soon. For now. And everywhere plans for a “sizzling 4th!” continue including fireworks displays. Many communities still allow safe and sane firework sales. I love America.
And so it goes. I will write more about the Left Coast, the northern California bit I inhabit, throughout the week but knowing how the media both inflates and abandons news items, and having received anxious inquiries from the east, I felt this would be a good way to begin.
Moony June departs another year. Have you written your clerihew yet?