Here we are at Lake Tahoe, California, living in a condo in the forest. California’s fires are on the news every day. Relatives of mine in Ireland wrote and said they saw it on their news station. It’s been frightening to watch as fires were started in Southern Cal, from dry lightening strikes, and when that stopped happening, the heat just stepped in and record-breaking temperatures were recorded. One day it was 118 degrees in Los Angeles, and Palm Springs has had over 110 degree temps for over 70 days. The high temps are why we only stay there in the winter, but this is ridiculous!

The San Francisco Bay Area has been hot and smoky for the last month, with several fires burning close by. We’ve gotten into the habit of looking at our weather on the iPhone, not just checking out the projected temperature here, which has stayed at a comfortable 80 degrees or so, but also checking out the air quality at all the locations where we have family or friends, moaning for them when we see that they have “Unhealthy air quality for sensitive groups”. …. and feeling guilty for being in a place that has air quality of 19 or so, and classified as “good”. If it weren’t for the virus, we could say, “Come on up and stay with us!”, but we don’t, because they might be carriers of what were starting to refer to as “the Plague”. Heck, WE might be the ones that are carriers, without any symptoms. You never know….

Yesterday our relatives in the Bay Area were all posting “eerie” and “apocalyptic” photos of the orange sun and sky from the smoke, and the darkness they experienced most of the day. It was interesting to see the pictures, some of them fantastic, but here we sat, experiencing only a little smoke, with decent air quality, once again, feeling a little guilty for being in such a beautiful place.

Today was different though. The light was different outside, and even I could smell the smoke. I stood outside just looking around at the shadows of the branches on the ground, and the sun that shone through them turned the path orange. It was about 9:30, and silent outside. I realized that the birds and squirrels hadn’t come down to eat the seeds I had thrown to them, and none of them were calling to each other in their usual cacophony. Our neighbor came outside and she told me that there was a fire nearing the west side of the lake, the one started by someone shooting off pyrotechnics at a “gender reveal” party. We agreed on their stupidity, and when we both started coughing after we talked, decided we had better go inside. I had an odd, unsettled feeling the rest of the morning, and couldn’t decide to make myself do anything constructive, until I made myself go out and water plants that seemed like they needed it. Still no birdsong.

Our favorite Irish priest, Fr. Oliver was scheduled to go out to lunch with us today. He arrived at about 1 pm, and we sat on the front porch for a few minutes, and finally a few blackbirds and a couple of chickadees made an appearance just for him. So it isn’t the end of the world after all.


  1. I’m glad to hear you it is not too smoky where you are. The Shenandoah Valley has been getting so much rain there has been flooding. I wish we could send some out west.


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