Smoky Day

It’s September 15th, tax day if you’re self-employed, and an end of summer day deep in the heart of fire season if you live in California.

Our worst fires have been in October, so we have weeks to go before it rains again.  The sky is dark this morning, but it’s not from rain clouds, it’s from smoke.  If I open up the slider, I can smell it. So I go around the house, shutting all the windows that let in last night’s breezes.  The art and wine is today in Lafayette, but who wants to be outside in this?

Last night’s sunset was orange and pink. A Facebook friend and I got into a little argument about it. I said it was beautiful because of the fires up north. He is in denial and said it was natural sunset. Natural if you count 50,000 burning acres releasing particulates into the air we breathe.

There’s live music tonight but who will want to sit outside in a lawn chair if the sky is gray and the air chokes you while you drink your city-park-quality bottle of wine?

After living in the same town for thirty years, I don’t like the change in air quality — not welcomed. My beautiful add-on back porch was supposed to be for sipping wine and sunset gazing, not for viewing from inside the house. The dogs don’t understand about bad air quality – they want their walk, no matter what. In the spring it’s the pollen, in the summer and fall, it’s the smoke. The only great time to hike now is the winter if the hills aren’t too soggy from the rains.

Rain.  No one looks forward to it as much as a California land owner in the fall. It’s been months since it fell onto our properties. We have our rain barrels ready, hooked up to our gutters to capture every last drop.

My fountain in the back yard that waters the birds, squirrels, and all other wildlife is constantly in need of a fill-up.  I hand water all my potted plants and give the plants on a drip line an extra drink each week this time of year. One small pine tree that I moved from its volunteer location in the back yard is turning brown. I can’t save it. The gophers have found a way past the chicken wire cage and have gotten to the roots. That’s what I get for planting it in the front, too close to the adjacent park.

The gray clouds are moving on. The blue sky is coming through. It isn’t smoky today after all, just some teaser rain clouds that won’t produce anything.  The wine festival is saved; the outdoor music is saved.  Even if we get a few sprinkles, we won’t mind. It will be a promise of more rain soon and one very happy state of California.

Oops! That reminds me. I need to drag my green can over to the pine tree in the park and rake up the needles again.  It’s a smoking hang-out for the teenagers. I’ve seen their cigarette butts on the ground among the pine needles. A disaster waiting to happen. Except it won’t if I have anything to say about it.

Couldda Wouldda Shouldda

I should’ve waited to panic about bad air quality on a Saturday.

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