rejectomorph (flying_blind) wrote,


Two days ago a fire got started in an area east of Oroville and south of its eponymous lake. I'm not sure just how far that is from my house, but it is way over beyond the lake and several ridges of mountains and several deep canyons. As of this evening it had burned only 525 acres and, despite being in a fairly rugged area, was already about 25% contained. Two other fires, both much larger and faster, are burning on the other side of the valley in Lake County, which has suffered one enormous fire after another this summer. One of these new fires has expanded to some 65,000 acres in four days, and the other to 50,000 acres in two days, so one is nearly 100 times larger than our nearby fire and the other well over 100 times larger.

But I'm sure it was our local fire that kept our air foul with smoke all last night and all day today. The distant fires might have contributed their share to the smoke that created the vivid sunset we observed this evening, but even most of that was probably the result of our fire. It goes by the name Lumpkin fire, so called for a road along which it is burning. It's an oddly quaint and colorful name for a disaster that is consuming some of the most scenic forest in the county.

A cooling trend is beginning, and the breeze is apt to shift around later tonight and blow the smoke south. If it clears the lingering clouds as well then I'll sit outside breathing fresh air and watching the stars unattended by the moon. I might forget about the fires then, and find more distant thoughts, washed by the ocean's waves or the waves of memory.

Some other year I saw clear night sky as summer waned, and never imagined this moment. Now that it's here it will never fully leave me, but it will turn dim and vague. Time folds old things back and conceals them as it opens new views, but sometimes the old things flash quickly back into being like licks of flame on the dark horizon. What is consumed will regrow, and what I will never see will be much like that which I did. I can join the ashes of other burned out things and become part of the anonymous silence of the new forest. What more could I want than such a placid fate?

Sunday Verse

Halley's Comet

by Stanley Kunitz

Miss Murphy in first grade
wrote its name in chalk
across the board and told us
it was roaring down the stormtracks
of the Milky Way at frightful speed
and if it wandered off its course
and smashed into the earth
there'd be no school tomorrow.
A red-bearded preacher from the hills
with a wild look in his eyes
stood in the public square
at the playground's edge
proclaiming he was sent by God
to save every one of us,
even the little children.
"Repent, ye sinners!" he shouted,
waving his hand-lettered sign.
At supper I felt sad to think
that it was probably
the last meal I'd share
with my mother and my sisters;
but I felt excited too
and scarcely touched my plate.
So mother scolded me
and sent me early to my room.
The whole family's asleep
except for me. They never heard me steal
into the stairwell hall and climb
the ladder to the fresh night air.
Look for me, Father, on the roof
of the red brick building
at the foot of Green Street—
that's where we live, you know, on the top floor.
I'm the boy in the white flannel gown
sprawled on this coarse gravel bed
searching the starry sky,
waiting for the world to end.


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