And it’s NOT a Dry Heat!

I woke up with the first lightening of the sky, long before the sun crested the mountains that frame our valley to the east. The outside thermometer read around 70 degrees, which felt like dog walking weather to me. At first, the breeze coming up the valley felt cool but soon the humidity of that marine air grew oppressive. When we got to the levy, I could see that the flash floods that had ravaged the mountain canyons had made it down to our part of the watershed, leaving the river bottom begrimed with a layer of fine, gray silt. Wary of quick sand, I avoided damp areas upriver from large rocks, which I’ve learned can leave you wet to the mid-calf and with shoes covered in mud. 20180715_071429 We followed the stream bed upriver enjoying the hard-packed sand. Molly found a spot of shade under a rock and burrowed into the mud.


Since we still had about two miles to go and our water was nearly depleted, we headed cross country back towards the levy and home. Much to Sadie’s delight, there were dozens of young rabbits out that clearly needed chasing. She came back after each futile effort, her ragged panting evidence of having had all the fun a dog could possibly have. Molly watched with interest but couldn’t work up much enthusiasm for running in the dispiriting heat.

This time of year, we can only walk in the early morning or late evening which means our walks are much shorter than in cooler seasons. I was disheartened to find that today’s walk, a scant four miles made my legs feel tired.

On one of our evening walks, I snapped this shot of the last of the fire fighting helicopters returning to base. If you look closely, you can see the chopper and below it a speck that is the basket in which they tote water to the fire. Those pilots are my heroes!



Summertime Blues

It’s definitely summer in Southern California as evidenced by triple digit heat (115 the last two days) and the dreaded forest fires. Heading home from work on Friday, I spotted a pillar of smoke coming from Mill Creek Canyon, just a few miles up the road from home.


I could see that it was in an area I had hiked recently where I’d been alarmed at the number of dead trees, stacked like kindling. Flames were clearly visible at this distance, shooting up the steep canyon wall. A small blessing, at least it wasn’t windy. But of course, by late afternoon the breeze picked up and quickly stoked the fire into 1,000 acres. The next day, the winds were gale force and the fire fighting aircraft were grounded. The fire is in such steep terrain that hand crews are of no use. This morning, there were a few helicopters chopping their way up the valley but by noon they had given up. Our wilderness is being incinerated and we can only stand helplessly by and hope the wind subsides.

In the heat and smoke, Sally’s firstborn held a wedding celebration outdoors. The venue was just a few blocks from my house and within sight of the staging area where the firefighters were organizing their aerial attack on the fire. As luck would have it, the violent wind that churned up thunder clouds at 1:00, cooled the valley down to a comfortable 100 degrees by 4:00 and then kindly blew itself out.


Smoke from the Forest Falls fire looms over the mountains
A man-made oasis

This was one instance where I was grateful to be a woman of a certain age. While the young women tottered around the expansive grounds of the venue in spikey, strappy sandals and layers of lovely dresses, I wore a comfortable sundress with flat sandals and a straw hat, the only concession to decorum was an underwire bra and granny panties and truthfully, I considered skipping the panties. A lovely young girl sitting beside me, sweltering in a full-length velvet dress, described how long it had taken her to apply her flawless make-up. I commiserated with her admitting that it had taken me nearly fifteen minutes to complete my toilette. Actually, I think I said, “…to get this beautiful,” because she looked at me as if she could readily believe it.

Despite the heat, smoke, humidity, and underwire bra, it was a lovely ceremony. The young couple gave me every reason to believe in happily ever after. Both are college graduates from intact families and have known each other for years. The bride’s family was the kind you wished would adopt you when you were a kid. The groom’s family was deserving of such great in-laws.

So, while Rome burns, life goes on with hope for the future…albeit a future without forests.