Tinder Box

This weekend we traveled up to the cabin in the woods. The valley was searing hot and the 10 degrees cooler that you find in the mountains seems like more when you are melting on the valley floor. So up we went into the foothills, into the big hills, and finally into the bosom of the mountains with all her craggy passageways and lush miles-long scenic views.

Our family loves it up here where the snow caps the peaks in winter and the abundance of Redwood trees captures our imaginations. But this year the landscape looks moon-like in some places. Cabins that were once hidden by trees stand naked and exposed. Instead of cypress and pine trees the only thing left are the oaks. After years of drought mother nature is suffering. The once majestic trees have been weakened and have become susceptible to disease and the insects that wish to take them down. And so they do…the leaf miner and the bark beetle cutting their way through huge swarths of forrest reducing the trees to nothing but huge stands of kindling. It really is a natural disaster of epic proportions that few are aware of.

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And so, as we traveled up the windy mountain passes, we watched as the air became noticeably streaked with brown from the huge forest fire that is down the road a spell. Its a fire that in  a few short minutes killed two people. Its a fire that has taken out hundreds of homes leaving people with nothing but memories. It’s a fire that has crews risking their lives in the hot blazing sun trying to put out a fire that has grown to over 50,000 charred acres. And from a distance I see the smoke that sends an ominous signal warning of worse to come.

So this weekend while in the smokey air we worked to clear the grass and debris 100 ft away from the building. We worked in the heat to try to ward off the threat of a fire destroying this 100 year old cooks cabin that the lumberjacks once relied on for their meals after a hard days work deep in the old growth Sequoia Forest. Yet, while motivated to save the natural beauty beside us, we are also realists, and we know that should fire hit this part of the world, that in just a few minutes, everything would most likely go up in flames no matter what measures we might put into place.

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So tonight, as you head off to dreamland, I ask a favor. I ask that you pray or send positive thoughts for those who have lost everything in this fire as well as the firefighters who do their best to save the property, wildlife, and the people of our neck of the woods. And please remember the families of the firefighters who worry about them out in the middle of nowhere with nothing but minimal equipment and their wits about them.  For firefighting is a dangerous and dirty job.It’s a job in which 19 firefights lost their lives on one black day back in 2013. It is a job in which flames dance above heads and threaten the firefighters life with just one turn of the fickle wind.May our firefighters stay safe this fire season so that they may return home to tuck their children into bed at night knowing that once again they can be proud of a job that demands so much and pays so little.

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Under The Strawberry Moon

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Tonight, the first night of summer to be exact, a strawberry moon rose steadily from horizon to that place so high in the sky that it appeared to take up almost all the space in the galaxy, leaving room for nothing but a few pulsating stars. The moon’s color was like a Mary Magdalene rose…fluffy and full the luscious golden pink  tinged color. I have seen better strawberry moons where the sky had the hue of a hearty David Austin Sharifa Asma rose, it’s brilliant pink filling the night sky; but if you were just looking for something like a miracle of nature, the other night would do just fine.

As B and I held hands in awe, gazing at the nights passion play, I thought about how the moon had changed from when I was a child. Back then, I would search for the Man in the Moon, who seemed to hide in delight every time I tried to get a glimpse of him. Later, as children arrived and the busy demands of motherhood intervened; I stole quick glances at the sky seldom appreciating the miracle that was unfolding above me. But tonight, my appreciation for the moon peaked when B said, “I love to see the glow of the moon as it shines over you.”

These days as I settle into the later part of my life, I see in the moon what I see in myself. A creation that is glorious in its simplicity, sparkly, and has no ambitions to be anything but what it is…a moon. Like the moon I wish to be appreciated for the light that shines outward from me and for producing those joyous high tides can help change the landscape around us.  And as moon also provides stability to the earth, its gravitational pull ensuring that we don’t spin violently out of control, I would like to be seen as possessing that kind of dependability and support to my family and friends as life shifts around us. And while the moon is moving away from the Earth at a rate of 4 cm per year, I would like to think that when it is my time to move on that I will have left just enough light in my children’s lives to guide them even when clouds linger overhead.

For I am like a strawberry moon…I am brilliant, full of life, and just freakin’ spectacular.

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Pescetarian No More

Every once in a while when we escape to “our” place something spectacular, unique or unexpected takes place. This week it was Sid.

Sid is a tall, lean, gawky and socially awkward kind of guy; think Sheldon Cooper on steroids and you’ve got an idea of who Sid really is. He is a solitary mate who lives to fish…I mean, really, he is a fisherman first class. But the best thing about Sid is that he is quiet and seldom around so seeing him is more like an unearned luxury rather than an everyday occurrence. Yet, when Sid is around he’s got your full attention because his presence is so BIG and so RARE, well, he’s kind of like Howard Hughes strolling the MGM backlot.

So what’s so special about Sid? He’s a Great Blue Heron, that’s what.

Rarely does one get the pleasure of seeing such a big bird. With a wing span of five to six-and one-half-feet they are massive when stretched. When they take flight they run like an awkward three-year-old girls whose shoes are untied but when airborne they fly with the grace of ballerina, their immense wings flapping to some unnamed symphony that is carried on the currents of the wind in a 4/4 time signature.

And while watching Sid is you know you are on borrowed time because, shy fellow that he is, he doesn’t like to be intruded on and often just leaves without fanfare. But not this week. This week Sid stayed by the Lodge… away from the marshes, away from the spray of the thundering waves that pounded the shore, and he stayed away from the fish. It was a pleasant surprise to see this different side of Sid. But even more surprising than all the things he didn’t do was the “unusual” thing he did. As he paraded himself clumsily over the potholed terrain, he suddenly snagged a gopher turning from pescetarian to carnivore on a dime! Who knew?

And so now when I think of Sid I think of a guy so different from whom I originally envisioned. A kind of creepy quiet gourmet who can grab, fillet and dine on his prey all within 20 seconds…A Hannibal Lector sort of fellow that you wouldn’t want to run into in a dark alley. Sinister yet charming. I’m sure you know the type. Strange and nothing like you originally pictured. Kind of like many of the people who weave themselves in and out of our lives..the odd ducks that sing like canaries when presented with the right opportunities. And for all their uniqueness and not being what we originally pictured somehow they become important to us as they nest into our lives and become something to treasure. For they are a rare bird… a welcome bird… in a world filled with common seagulls that shit on you…just because they can.

(Okay, i’m tired and should have quit two paragraphs ago…sorry!)

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Pictures of Sid

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