Not now. Not us. It's so familiar, so vivid in memory.
We are safe! Friends have asked, and thankfully, we are safe. Northern California is getting hammered, our friends are on alert, packing, evacuating. Here, in Southern California, at the "start" of Fire Season, we have been spared. I am sorry to say, it's only mid-August, and heat, Santa Ana Winds, low humidity, lightning strikes are of concern, all over the West, at least through November.
No one is imagining this: Fire Season is longer, the fires are bigger, more frequent. This year alone, there are more than 500 fires, in California, so far. The incidences are not only changing the landscape, but changing our language! Fire whirls, eddies that can contract a tornado-like vortex that sucks in debris and combustible gases have been developing into an even worse phenomenon, known as firenados, "where a fire has such intensity that it generates an actual tornado."
Clearly, I can get myself very worked up and anxious about all of this, and not just because it's scary, or because I am preoccupied with cataclysm and disasters. I am not inclined to dwell on cataclysms and disasters. I'd like to watch a sunrise, and not sniff the air for smoke, check for flames on the horizon. "Fire Season" should not be a thing. Wildfires, here, and like what Australia suffered, are massive, fast moving, deadly, and a very real, very concerning consequence of climate change. There have always been fires, arsonists, mishaps, even prescribed burns, but on this hotter, drier planet, with all of its climate variability, and detrimental human activities, we are facing a crisis, worthy of tremendous concern, action. At the very least, we can vote for an administration, for mayors, governors, judges, and representatives, that know climate change is real. The President of the United States, and all of the people that make policy, and oversee government and justice must demonstrate an understanding of what is at stake, and act to protect our planet. This is not up for debate, because we are at a crossroads that represents life or death, destruction, or hope. Please, vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Let's elect representatives and leaders that care, that will be held accountable.
"Time to remember the best voting advice I have heard: Voting isn't marriage. It's public transport. You are not waiting for 'the one' who is absolutely perfect. You are getting on the bus. And if there isn't one going exactly to your destination, you don't stay home and sulk. You take the bus going closest to where you want to be."
I thought I would escape into beauty, relish the corn stalks, and growing pullets, recite poetry.
Then I saw a headline appear on my monitor, about a place I love. Love.
"Big Basin, Home To Majestic Coast Redwoods, Is 'Gone.'"
August 22, 5% contained, 60,000 acres. One fire, of hundreds, burning in California. CZU Lightning Complex Fire. I couldn't not write about this. All of the fires, all of the disasters, the systemic racism, the injustice, the corruption, and willful destruction, malice of conspirators and traitors... all of it drums on my heart, all of it is appalling, sick, and heartbreaking. There is so much cause for outrage, so many causes of outrage, and too often I am resigned to face that there is not a lot we can do, that solutions are slow to realize. I know this though, nothing will get better, nothing will be kind, nor intelligent, nor caring, if we do not get a good President, faithful representatives, new leaders, progressive government. I wasn't going to think about the news today, because I needed a break, but democracy is on fire, and we can't stay home.
– Carrie Stevens Walter, Sempervirens Club, 1901
Established in 1902, Big Basin Redwoods is California’s oldest state park. In the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains, its biggest attractions—literally—are its ancient coast redwoods. Some of these giants are more than 50 feet around and as tall as the Statue of Liberty. At 1,000 to 1,800 years old, some may predate the Roman Empire. The park also offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, lush waterfalls, and a fascinating natural and cultural history. "