smoky haze

On a normal day, this view stretches 20 miles to the Bay. This is approximately 1.5 miles.

Living with the daily news of death and destruction from California’s wildfires and looking out our windows on what used to be a view of hills and San Francisco Bay, it is difficult not to be overcome by uneasiness.  Those of us who live in the immediate Bay Area are, at this moment, lucky.  The fires in Paradise and the Los Angeles area are hundreds of miles away.  Everyone, though, knows people who have lost their houses, pets and livelihoods.  I have not met anyone whose loved ones are on the lists of the missing but every day all of us hope that those people turn up.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, the air quality index on Friday  was “extremely unhealthy.”  In Sacramento, where my sisters live, it was rated “hazardous.”  In our area most of the schools, from Kindergarten through college, have closed to protect students’ lungs.

smokey haze

From Mt. View Cemetery you can usually see Oakland, San Francisco and Mt. Tamalpais

This horror is not, as the president has claimed, simply a problem created by forest mismanagement. It is much more complicated than that, which you can read about here. California has endured five years of drought that caused more than 100 million trees to die. Try to manage that!  California is not only a place of beaches, palm trees and Yosemite. It has huge unpopulated areas, deserts, and a vast acreage of hills covered by dry yellow grass (from which it got its name:  The Golden State).  The dangerous weather cycle is drought, fire, heavy rainstorms and then mudslides. Droughts are more frequent in California now.  The weather is changing and we haven’t yet had those blessed November rains that would have prevented the current fires.  California is not the only place this is happening. I lived in New England for 20+ years and people there talk about how the weather has changed, too.

I feel too sad and uneasy to launch into a diatribe about global warning, but spare me the idiocy of blaming only forest mismanagement.




About Alexis

Alexis Rankin Popik, author of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in The Berkshire Review and Potpourri Magazine. She has penned numerous articles about local history that have been published in Connecticut Explored and the University of Connecticut School of Law and The Hartford Seminary publications. A former union organizer, Popik traveled the country educating shipyard workers about health and safety and founded a labor-management health plan before turning to writing fiction full-time. She lives with her husband in New England.
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