The waning three-quarter moon of waning August shines in the cloudless sky, and a warm wind is blowing. Oak leaves are skittering along the street, and acorns clattering to the ground; harbingers of autumn and more. This time of year I am always alert for the smell of smoke. When I go outside at night, if the breeze is strong, but free of smoke, the first thing I do is peer downwind, to see if there is any telltale red glow. The hot, dry days of summer have desiccated the fields and parched the underbrush in the forest. From now until the first rains is the time of greatest fire danger. However pleasant the day, however deep the repose of night, the thought of sudden conflagration lurks. Tonight, as I go out the door, I smell only the faintly lemony fragrance of the few late blossoms of the gardenia. Safe for now. As I watch the tops of the pines sway in silhouette against the moon, I am aware of how quickly that could change. This time of year, I keep a close eye on the cats. I always want to know where they are. When the rains come, I will relax again. For now, I remain cautious. I remain watchful.