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Clearing [Nov. 8th, 2005|07:15 pm]
This afternoon brought a phenomenon which occurs here rarely- a phantom mountain range which appears above the actual mountains to the southeast. The western slope of the Sierras being gradual, there's not much of an actual mountain range to be seen here, and most of the time there is only a low, tree-topped ridge in that direction, but on certain cloudy days, there will be a long, ground-hugging mass of cloud that gathers there, most of it the same blue-gray color of mountains seen from a distance. A few lighter clouds streak the top of this mass, looking like, well, clouds wreathing distant mountaintops.

The total effect is quite convincing, even when carefully examined. Today, the dark mass had very much the same shape as the San Gabriels above Los Angeles, and upon first seeing it, just a few moments after waking, I experienced the brief sensation that I was either still asleep and dreaming of the mountains, or the last 19 years had been a dream and I had never left Southern California. Though, after realizing what it was, I stared at the phantom mountains for several minutes, knowing them to be no more than clouds, they never lost their apparent solidity. The experience left me nostalgic all evening.

The sun came back this afternoon, and the cat got to go outside and romp across the still-wet grass and climb the mulberry tree. Much screeching of blue jays was to be heard as they warned one another of the presence of an energetic kitty. She ignored them, and they eventually shut up, allowing me to enjoy the declining day in peace. Partial cloudiness made for a colorful sunset, and then the moon emerged. I was a bit surprised to see it already half full. Time flies when you're having storms. More surprising still, as darkness arrived, the cricket across the street began to chirp. The cricket has survived even twenty hours of downpours! It must be the hardiest and most clever of its species. I begin to imagine it still being around to greet its own descendants next spring.

Though I'm enjoying the rainy weather, it has unfortunately coincided with the first three days of the peak period of the Taurid Meteor Shower. Most years, the Taurids don't amount to much, but 2005 is expected to bring more activity than usual. There have already been a number of fireball sightings reported, as far back as late October. If I get to see a fireball or two, it will make up for this year's Leonids display coinciding with a full moon's bright light which will render most of its meteors invisible. I seldom get to see November meteor showers anyway, as this is almost always one of the cloudiest months here. The Taurid fireballs don't come in a shower, though, as the debris from which they originate is in larger chunks more widely dispersed than the bits of dust which provide the Perseids or Leonids. I've only ever seen one Taurid fireball, but it was quite splendid. There's a better than usual chance that I'll get to see another this year. Mmm, fireballs!