The monthly Board meetings at work always mean around a twelve hour day for our heroine, so it was both disappointing and ironic in equal measure that this month’s arrived the day after Labor Day. I have started doing them from home, which is a process improvement for me. I leave work around 3:15 pm and get the long drive out of the way in daylight, instead of hitting the long and winding road in the 7:00 pm darkness. And when the meeting is over, I’m already home.

As I drove down the Ridge that afternoon, I could see where the fog at the coast met the smoke from the Oak Fire in Willits, about 30 miles to the east:

My house is nearly 6 miles east of the highway, so I was basically driving toward the fire and smoke, even though the fire was unlikely to reach us through the intervening mountainous terrain. By the time I was set up for the meeting, the light outside was an eerie dark orange. Here’s how it looked from my back door:

Clyde did not like it. During the meeting, he kept going from door to door, looking to see if it looked any less disturbing. It kept getting darker, even though sunset was still hours away. Clyde did not approve of this. He is a sensitive boy, and seemed as perturbed as he did during the moving process last year. He enjoyed the chaos as much as I did, and we were both stressed out by it.

I could hardly wait for it to get dark so I could stop looking at the creepy orange light and get some semblance of normalcy. As the days wore on, the fire was thankfully contained, but the air remained smoky and terrible-smelling. You could see the ash and particulates in the air. We are used to such clean air here, and it was a dramatic and distressing change. The skies stayed orange or brown, dark in the daytime, to the point that I had to have both lights on in my office. I longed to see the sky after a week of not seeing it.

Still, we were the lucky ones, not being evacuated or under immediate threat. This time. I can’t help wondering if it’s like falling off the dock was when my siblings lived on boats at Pier 39, or hitting a deer when you live in the depths of the country: There’s them that has, and them that will. I wonder when it will be our turn to flee for our lives and hope our house isn’t burning to the ground behind us.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The absurdity of “insurance”.

TEN YEARS AGO: Pantry invaders!

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