Fires, Smoke and Sadness

At fear of being horribly redundant in light of all the news coverage, living in California has been quite challenging this year. A seemingly endless string of huge destructive fires have ravaged our state. The latest, in the Santa Rosa/Napa/Sonoma area, is perhaps the worst and most heartbreaking I’ve heard of in a long time. In the Santa Cruz Mountains overlooking my old hometown of San Jose another fire burns on. Here in the Oroville area things are calm at present, but we wait with baited breath for the promised rain tonight. Just a few weeks ago we had two separate fires to the north and south of us.

The air quality in our new hometown has been one factor that we didn’t consider carefully enough when moving up here. This summer the lingering smoke has played havoc on my lungs, I’ve been coughing a lot, and recently a cold turned quickly to bronchitis, no doubt exacerbated by the persistent smoke. Which is one reason we are talking seriously of moving, sooner rather than later. My husband is from Minnesota, and has fond memories of clean air–and despite the cold, it’s all sounding pretty good to me now. We’ve been visiting his family for the last 30+ years on a regular basis, and this year when we go back for the family Christmas gathering, we will take a serious look at whether or not we can make that jump and deal with the cold. My beloved California, I hate to leave, but you are becoming a place that isn’t good for me anymore.

Another reason I haven’t blogged in a while is quite serious — a close family member has recently been diagnosed with lung cancer, which has spread to other organs. We are all in a state of shock, disbelief, grief and frustration over this sudden and overwhelming diagnosis. Home hospice care is already in place, and the blessing of a larger circle of friends and neighbors is reassuring — but living halfway across the country is so difficult, especially at times like these. I was able to fly back (Arkansas) to be with her for a while in early October.

Even with the heat and smoke (and before the sad news) I was able to get out and do a little plein air painting. The first is from a local olive oil producer, Berkeley Olive Grove 1913 in Butte County, and second from Riverbend Park over looking the Feather River in Oroville. It was recently reopened after extensive cleanup from erosion damage after the spillway failure in early 2017. If you click on the captions they link to my reproduction website.

Casita at Olive Grove 1913
Casita at Berkeley Olive Grove 1913
Summer, Riverbend Park
Summer, Riverbend Park.

2 thoughts on “Fires, Smoke and Sadness

  1. We’re all feeling the angst. This past month has been hard on everyone in the Bay Area. I’m sorry you’re going through personal loss as well. Leaving California is a big decision, mostly because of the cost of real estate. It’s hard to move back, financially. That said, living in a place surrounded by extended family, kind people, clean air, and yes, snow, isn’t so bad. Since you’re retired, you don’t have to stress about the snowy commute. Sending good vibes your way, Barb.


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