For a while, I’ve wanted to show some side-by-side photos of the wet and dry seasons here in Sonoma County. Folks who haven’t been to California, or who grew up in temperate zones where rain can fall any month in the year find it hard to imagine how huge is the difference between our usual April, and our usual October. This year, it’s unusually start because we had frighteningly little rain this past rainy season. So little rain that our hills are already going brown, weeks or months before they would in a usual year. The image just above was taken less than six weeks after the top left shot – and in case you can’t tell, this is the same hill from pretty much the same angle. The other two photos above are also from roughly the same place, taken less than six weeks apart. The dry ones were shot on May 14; the wetter ones the first weekend in April. And it’s in an area that’s burned twice since 2017. And, um, rain is extremely unlikely between now and at least October. Draw your own conclusions, and wish us luck getting through to the next rainy season without too much new fire stress….
If you’re curious, scan some past entries from last autumn (October-December or so) to see photos I took looking up at the Maycamas Ridge, when it had been freshly burned (again) by the Glass Fire last year. This fresh spring layer of grass is the seasonal green of late wet season. Most of what you see here was charred by the Glass Fire last year.
Pardon the clunkiness of this gallery. This site’s host has forced a new editor on me, and I really don’t much like it. If anyone has recommendations of other, very simple and non-flashy basic blog-site hosts, I’d welcome suggestions.
If you’ve visited our pages in the past, you’ll have seen many photos taken in and from Annadel State Park. All of these photos fall into that category, most taken on a lovely, long, meandering solo hike with which I greeted this new year. Some of these were taken on later visits. Many are taken in the southerastern quadrant of the park, an area I’ve not visited since it was badly burned during the Nuns Fire in late 2017. This is partly because trails were closed for many months and then I was out of the country; partly because I was worried about what I’d see; partly because I usually bike into the park, and try to avoid the smaller trails during mud season, to help reduce erosion. Be that as it may: herewith a sense of what we see when we explore our closest park here, three years after this part of the park burned. To be clear – the shot above here shows you Mt St Helena and the Mayacmas range, north of Annadel, all of which were affected by two different fires: the Tubbs, also in 2017; and the Glass, just last year. I’ve put plenty of photos up which show you the ridges of the Mayacamas which have now been twice burned in three years. The charred trees you’ll see further down were burned in the Nuns, not those other two fires. If any of my readers are still acting as though one can doubt or question the science of climate change…hello?
Although trees around where I stood when I took this shot *did* burn in the Nuns fire in 2017, the “burn” part of this photo is on the Mayacamas ridge in the distance – which, when I took this photo late last year, had just been burned again in the Glass Fire, after experiencing the Tubbs fire in 2017 at the same time as the south side of the valley, from which I took this photo, was burning in the Nuns fire. I remind us again that Santa Rosa hadn’t seen major immediately close forest fires for a few decades prior to 2017. Now we realize that with climate change, this is our life, and we rather desperately hope that both public and private policy and behaviors will speed their pace of change while we can still reduce the longer-term impacts on future generations and livability on the planet…
For many reasons I’ve been thinking about balance lately. Health and illness, birth and death, creation and destruction. My personal friends know I’ve had a fairly serious illness myself this past month, coupled with some fairly significant health issues affecting close family as well. And here we are nearly upon the one-year anniversary of the first outbreak of deadly wildfire which destroyed so many homes in my own community of Santa Rosa just a year ago. Recovering my own physical health at first involved avoiding much physical exercise, and now involves steadily allowing my stamina to build back. One way I’ve done that is to go hiking again in our local state park, where a second wildfire, coming from the south of Santa Rosa instead of the north of Santa Rosa, also destroyed many homes and lives at nearly the same time. Our rainy season here usually begins some time in October: last year, the first rains came later in the month. This year, we had an inch of rain last week and this allowed the moss to green up again on a stone I’ve been watching and photographing since the first time my normal trail in the park was reopened three weeks after last year’s Nunns fire was declared controlled. That stone is shown in the gallery below, with the most recent photo first and working backward. Date of the photo is indicated in format yymmdd, if you’re curious.
With a good friend I also drove up and over the hills to the north — hills from which this panorama shot just below, which looks south,was taken — there’s a major road across the mountains there along which many homes and businesses were destroyed in this week last year. There is some rebuilding happening and many lots cleared and seemingly prepped for rebuilding — just as a small tree in the second gallery, which last year was burned, is putting out a second season of new leaves now. You might need to enlarge some of the gallery photos to even see the burned parts lower down: the scars all across our landscape are already fading compared to what they were a year ago, though the vacant lots remain quite visible and the scars in the community and landscapre are certainly real. I feel fortunate to live in a community which came together in mutual support when faced with such challenge and destruction. I hope our human family more broadly will find constructive and healing ways to bridge our sometimes seemingly unbridgeable divides, on a larger scale and for a longer time. Balance, moderation, and an honest acquaintance with global realities seem quite necessary for longer-term health and survival of our planet and species, from what I’ve seen and experienced around this beautiful complicated world we all call home. Peace – health – balance.