I do occasionally set foot outside the back door on Sunday, of course, except when there is a rainstorm all day, which there hasn't been for a very longtime, and might never be again. I can imagine a day so hot that I won't set foot even outside the back door, at least until nightfall, but this Sunday wasn't that day. It neither rained not got intolerably hot, and it wasn't even smoky, so I spent quite a while sitting in the shade of the giant fence bush, nibbling grapes from the grape vine the giant fence bush competes for space with. It was rather pleasantish. It would be nothing to write home about, if I had a home, but there have been wore days.
One unpleasant thing did happen Sunday, but it was on the Internet. It was a picture. I saw a photo of a big, brown mountain. It seemed vaguely familiar, but I couldn't quite place it. Then I read the caption, and it said it was a photo of Mount Shasta. I thought, oh that's not Mount Shasta, Mount Shasta is white, always white, because it has snow on it all year. It is one of the most iconic scenes in rural northern California, depicted on countless picture postcards and in tourist brochures and travel articles for decades.
But it was Mount Shasta, and it was brown, all the way to the top. Well, there were a couple of tiny white patches, probably in deep gullies that are shaded most of the day every day, but otherwise the whole mountain was bare dirt. There aren't even any trees or brush up there, because things don't grow in dirt that is under snow all year. Maybe they'll start growing there now, if they can get enough water, because the snow is gone. Just gone. It's a scene nobody has seen in living memory. In fact it's a scene that probably hasn't been seen since before the last ice age. I don't feel privileged to have seen it. It depressed the hell out of me. Today Mount Shasta, tomorrow the world. That's how it felt. I remember enjoying the view of snow-capped Mount Shasta in the summer when I used to visit my older brother when he lived near Redding, less than fifty years ago. It was an impressive view. I'm glad we can't see Mount Shasta from Chico.
Now it's night and I couldn't see brown Mount Shasta even if I did have a view of it here. I can see the moon, not as clear as it normally is, but at least not orange. The smoke is not that thick up there, and I can't smell it down here at all. The fires are still burning, but didn't expand as much Sunday as they did in previous days. They've got plenty of opportunities upcoming, though. It is now the official view that they could burn into December, if we don't get rain before then. That would mean that this fire season isn't even half over yet. I'm going to be optimistic and bet that they'll burn everything and run out of fuel by the end of October.