Saturday, July 5, 2008

Excessive Heat Warning

Again the yellow band is flowing across the bottom of the television screen when I check the weather channel to see if it is time to start opening the house. That time is when the outside temperature is three degrees below the inside temperature and it has held steady for at least forty minutes or so. Right now it is perfectly splendid, a breeze is blowing that is visible in the swaying branches of trees. Increasingly, I give thanks for these trees.

I was hoping so much that we could get a few more weeks away from the longest day of the year before having to endure this again. Once we have lost an hour or so of daylight, my house is not so hot and cools down more quickly at night. Alas, it is not to be.

For the sake of the firefighters too, I was hoping that we would not have another excessive heat spell for a bit. The fire at Big Sur is so huge, so complicated and surging over such rugged terrain that they are not expecting to have it fully contained until the end of July. This means it will not be controlled until next month and it will probably be the fall rains that will finally put it out.

We could use a rain right now over all of the state. A real rain that would fall gently and steadily restoring moisture to parched land and trees. Not dry lightning which makes for more wild fires, but water. On the other hand would it just make the weeds grow to make more fuel in a few weeks? I don't know.

There is talk about a new tax of $12 to be paid for by all property owners. I think it would be more fair to tax those living in the areas that are at risk, but since I breathe the air, I will pay my tax without a protest.

Better management of water resources and forests is needed in this state. Fifty years of underbrush and dead trees should not be left to stack up to burn in a drought year. I am, of course, a city girl; born in a city, living in an urban megolopolis and having lived for six years in one of the country's biggest and grandest cities, I don't view wilderness in quite the same way, I suppose, as those who live near it.

Still, if I were living in the wilderness or close to it, I would want to be able to clear defensible space around my dwelling and outbuildings. As a taxpayer and a voter, I think it is time to call the National Park Service to accountability. It is time to temper environmentalism with stewardship and change some of our policies. The health cost of these fires as the air continues to be choked with ash and smoke hasn't been calculated. I can feel in my lungs and energy level that it is taking a toll on me and I am sure that I am not alone.

I am grateful that I do not live inland or in one of the areas of fires and that the longest day of the year has past. I will be grateful when next weekend comes around--I wish I could just hibernate and sleep until then.

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