September 8, 2013
Heat in the valley. It settles in from above, settles between the mountains rising from the earth and rock and dirt trapping the heat that dries the land, dries the grass, flowers, plants and the trees dry their reserves which dries their leaves. The valley's flat like the plains but distinct when viewed from the mountain passes, like a long flat bowl with rough edges, a thoroughfare of orchards and rice paddies that harbor waterfowl and shorebirds traveling the flyway and the rest is dead and brown but we say golden. Cold nights cool the creeks and rivers. Mornings are brisk. Afternoons are hot and it’s hot in the evenings before the stars dot the sky and the moon lights the night. Fires burn. Sometimes from people. Sometimes not. They burn forests in the mountains and the tall grass in the long dry canyons. Smoke rises, the wind blows and the smoke settles in the valley. The fires burn, everything afire. People stay in, air conditioners stay on and the people don’t leave. Trucks haul hoses and tanks and men with helmets and thick heavy suits, stern faces behind plastic shields breathing air from tanks. Roads close. People start to leave. Tents appear in parks and school yards, hundreds of settlements that couldn’t stay, that had to leave. Airtankers dive the lakes and fill their tanks with thousands of gallons of water. They dump the water and the fires burn and smolder. The contained percentage rises. The firemen fight, and before long, the fires are out. Wisps of smoke in a black charred land. The days stay hot but get shorter, the valley summer waning in the cyclic eternal.