|Good Time To Be Not Here
||[Jul. 26th, 2015|08:50 pm]
This morning I woke to the smell of smoke. Smoke can travel a long way on the night breezes, and this smoke came forty miles from a wildfire that began Friday and has already burned almost three square miles of Nevada County forest a few miles southeast of Grass Valley. All day planes have been flying over. They are most likely picking up loads of chemical fire retardants at Chico airport and taking them south to dump on the flames. |
Bigger planes that fly low to scoop water from reservoirs and take it to fires are probably in use as well, but I don't know what reservoirs they are able to find enough water in. They might be getting some from Lake Oroville, but I wouldn't be able to see them if they are. They'd be on the other side of the tall ridge that divides the nearby arm of the lake from its other arms. Helicopters are also being used, as they can dip water from smaller bodies in big buckets. We are unlikely to see the helicopters here, either, as they are able to get water from places much closer to the fire.
The fire was only five percent contained this morning, and I don't know if much improvement was made today despite the nearly 800 firefighters on the job. While this particular fire is very unlikely to ever spread this far, it could burn for weeks and send smoke hither every night. The wind shifted around today and carried the smoke yon, but it's apt to return tonight, and possibly every night. The heat wave due this week could prolong the fire. The hotter the weather gets the more rapidly the firefighters become exhausted. The territory they are working in is very rugged, making the job even more difficult.
It's been nice having fresh air today, and I'm hoping the return of the smoke is delayed until I get to sleep. I find it very difficult to get to sleep when the air is thick with smoke, and I'd hate to have to close the windows and turn the air conditioner on, which would at least filter some of it out. I'll have to be doing that in a few days anyway, and I'd rather not have to start early. Also, the smoke not only makes the air difficult to breath, it is a constant reminder that other fires could get started much closer. The entire region— in fact most of the state— is a tinderbox waiting to be lit.
It's been a while since I've heard a plane passing overhead. They have been grounded for the night. I see that the moon has a slightly orange cast. That means there is still smoke lingering higher up in the atmosphere. The breeze is still coming from the north this evening, but it's almost certain to reverse later. I'm going out to enjoy the freshness while I can.
by Mark Jarman
Is nothing real but when I was fifteen,
Going on sixteen, like a corny song?
I see myself so clearly then, and painfully—
Knees bleeding through my usher's uniform
Behind the candy counter in the theater
After a morning's surfing; paddling frantically
To top the brisk outsiders coming to wreck me,
Trundle me clumsily along the beach floor's
Gravel and sand; my knees aching with salt.
Is that all I have to write about?
You write about the life that's vividest.
And if that is your own, that is your subject.
And if the years before and after sixteen
Are colorless as salt and taste like sand—
Return to those remembered chilly mornings,
The light spreading like a great skin on the water,
And the blue water scalloped with wind-ridges,
And—what was it exactly?—that slow waiting
When, to invigorate yourself, you peed
Inside your bathing suit and felt the warmth
Crawl all around your hips and thighs,
And the first set rolled in and the water level
Rose in expectancy, and the sun struck
The water surface like a brassy palm,
Flat and gonglike, and the wave face formed.
Yes. But that was a summer so removed
In time, so specially peculiar to my life,
Why would I want to write about it again?
There was a day or two when, paddling out,
An older boy who had just graduated
And grown a great blonde moustache, like a walrus,
Skimmed past me like a smooth machine on the water,
And said my name. I was so much younger,
To be identified by one like him—
The easy deference of a kind of god
Who also went to church where I did—made me
Reconsider my worth. I had been noticed.
He soon was a small figure crossing waves,
The shawling crest surrounding him with spray,
Whiter than gull feathers. He had said my name
Without scorn, just with a bit of surprise
To notice me among those trying the big waves
Of the morning break. His name is carved now
On the black wall in Washington, the frozen wave
That grievers cross to find a name or names.
I knew him as I say I knew him, then,
Which wasn't very well. My father preached
His funeral. He came home in a bag
That may have mixed in pieces of his squad.
Yes, I can write about a lot of things
Besides the summer that I turned sixteen.
But that's my ground swell. I must start
Where things began to happen and I knew it.