We’ve had thunderstorms two days in a row here.  Thunderclap and lightning strike together and the power went out at home for a few hours on Thursday.

snow coming

cloudburst mesquite

Southern California is dry country. Even the hills running down to the beach tend to be scrubby oak woodland, grassland,  or chaparral. The southern California mountains are piney and rocky, dry and dusty in the summer and fall.

Coastal Sage Scrub

Coastal Sage Scrub

In a wet winter, the local snowpack is good; in a dry winter, not so good. The numbers this year for the whole state are abysmal because of the protracted drought.

The years that we have rain and not much snow, we get overgrowth of vegetation, fuel for southern California wildfires.  And fire season is beginning earlier every year. San Diego was aflame and it’s only May.



cajon fire 395

Last week some neighbors were burning something at the edge of their yard. Trash maybe? People do that out here.

Here in the high desert, we expect winds. I’ve noticed in the last decade that wind velocity and duration have both been increasing.

There are days that the wind is so extreme I wonder how much longer I can maintain RSF.  There’s that much wind.

Wind, 60 mph, a new normal.

Wind, 60 mph, a new normal.

Thursday, my neighbors had been running a bonfire for several hours. Silly me, I tend to assume that people do the sensible thing. There’s a rock-lined fire pit in our back yard that a daughter and her boyfriend built. They’ve used it twice. Before they do, they call the local FD. They’ll tell you if it’s a “burn” or “no-burn” day.

I suspect the day my neighbors had the fire stoked was a no-burn day.

The winds were as strong as any we’ve had this spring.

The fire got away from them. Another neighbor came by. This guy was the proverbial man with his hair on fire. He was wild-eyed.  I’m actually glad he was. He called out the cavalry and raced to the paved road to meet them.

The local fire department apparently dispatched a phenomenal number of trucks. I guess it was kind of cool. I don’t know for sure. I had to leave for work before the excitement really took hold. I don’t have a single photo. An older daughter was home with my teen. They thought the neighbors were idiots. Well, they were. They were a few gusts away from setting fire to the acreage right next to my house.  A shift in the wind and their own home might have gone up.

We used to say, blithely, “the desert won’t burn, there’s not enough biomass.” Given events of the last several years, we don’t say that anymore.

cajon fire buddha

2012 fire san gabriels





Burned Joshuas

Burned Joshuas

Scary stuff. Very thankful I had responsible young people at home. And even more thankful that they’re safe. And the house is still standing.



About rainshadowfarm

West Virginia hillbilly girl grown up. Grew up in northern Ohio. Farmer from birth. Working class academic. Practical agroecologist. Community educator. Single parent of eight. I also teach anthropology at a community college. I like this work and think it's worth doing and doing well. California community college students are some of the most incredible students I have ever known.
This entry was posted in climate change, family, fire season, gratitude, Nature and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to

  1. Mary F. says:

    Wow, scary stuff! Happy to hear your fire department took care of business and ensuring your continued safety. Btw, I am incredibly impressed by the first picture you posted. The sky and the clouds are really dramatic and sort of beautiful despite how ominous they seem looming overhead.

    • rainshadowfarm says:

      Thanks, Mary F., The skies out here are amazing all year long. We can watch the weather move over the mountains – it’s pretty cool.

  2. ksfinblog says:

    we had haze and rain at our place too……. no pic 😦

  3. Lesley says:

    Wow! Just wow! That must have been awful. Glad everyone is ok.

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