That’s that.

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Summer is over my friends.

Autumn is here.

Be of good cheer.

Fire news

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There’s a bit of a conflagration a few miles north of Lake Arrowhead, which means a few miles north of where I’m sitting. It’s cool today, with little wind, and the fire isn’t threatening homes or anything.

Here’s the update:

Pinnacles Fire 2,500 Acres; Air Attack Imminent

Breaking News

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

As of 7:00 AM, there was little change in the fire. It’s size remains at roughly 2,500 acres. “The fire has laid down real well,” said one official Tuesday evening, “with no open running flame” The only problem area is the northeast corner near Apple Valley. Helicopter operations are to resume shortly, with fixed wing operations to resume after 8 AM.

Tuesday afternoon, the fire reached a trigger point along Deep Creek, causing officials to issue voluntary evacuations for the Highlands and Mariannas areas of Apple Valley, east of the Lake Silverwood spillway.

The Pinnacles Fire started just south of the shooting area along Highway 173 near Lake Arrowhead. Firefighters had a shakey containment on the fire shortly after 10 AM Tuesday, but the fire escaped containment just before 11 AM and has spread rapidly. It jumped and spotted to the north in gusty southerly winds Tuesday afternoon, burning north and northwestward toward Apple Valley.

To be honest, while I think fire is bad, and not to be encouraged or enjoyed, as it results in loss of life even if no humans are affected, I can’t say I’m all that disappointed in the chosen location. Me and the Pinnacles area have a wee history.

I have scars, I tell you. Scars from some of those now burning bushes, or at least close cousins of the same.

“Bursting Before Me”

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Another little thing I wrote last week. Sort of a rumination on Psalm 55:12.

The night was hot. My life struggles in confusion and frustrations, the thoughts of it all invading my sleep. With the heat and my inner frenzy I wake up early, while it is still dark. I don’t feel the peace of a night filled with sleep. Instead I feel scattered and unfocused. My mind wanders down impassable trails. My body fidgets. There’s no use in trying to fall back asleep, so I get up, rub my eyes, then put on some shorts and a t-shirt. My day has just started, but it has not started well.

I go outside, out onto the deck where the sky is still dark and the birds are still silent. There is no use in trying to force my way into this day. There is only to seek what I cannot now find.

I sit and I try to pray, my words hollow and wan, rising nowhere. The silence is an oppression. I know this to be a reflection of my soul, not God. Only how do I rise out of this dark cloud, so I can see and hear and rejoice? My heart lies heavy within me. My prayers become heavy sighs.

A gust of air lifts the branches near me. I stop my wrestling and look at the trees in the barest of morning light. The sky has become a dark blue rather than black. I see scattered clouds on the horizon reflecting the light of an approaching sun. I breathe in deeply. I exhale. I breathe in deeply. I exhale.

Off in the distance a chickadee tests his voice. The early bird sings. Another closer by echoes with a short song of his own. I listen, hearing more voices and try to put a name to their various whistles, and tweets, and screeches. The blue grows lighter. The clouds become whiter.

There is a tripled caw, answered soon by another. The ravens are awake. I see one soaring over a nearby ridge, rising with the gusts of air, then diving low with sheer exuberance of flight.

The breeze picks up and becomes steady. Cedar branches around me begin to dance. Birds now awake flit around from tree to tree, each with their own part and voice.

Steller’s jays erupt in a cacophony of screeching. There must be a coyote or bobcat or maybe merely an argument over territory. It doesn’t take much for the jays to get worked up.

The ground becomes active with squirrels making use of the dawn light to gather seeds and acorns. Two robins bound through the tree across from me and then onto the ground, tilting their heads after a couple of steps watchful for a beetle or worm. A chipmunk on a stump is less industrious. He squeaks for a friend, his tail swishing with each call. I see another climbing the low branches of a fir sapling. We’ll hear him in a moment. There. He answers with more staccato chirps.

In the west the sky is still blue. In the east it is now almost white. All birds are now quite busy. The breeze turns to a wind. I still listen and I watch.

A flock of band tailed pigeons burst out of a tall pine, surprising me with their numbers and noise, for I hadn’t any idea it was so crowded. The sun begins to brighten the tops of the tallest trees.

With the wind growing in strength new sounds are added to the forest music. A faint whistle rises and falls with each gust. The pines are adding their voices. Above me and around me is the heavier whoosh of breeze through cedars. I hear the wind play the trees, the sound growing from far away then approaching like a flash flood. The gust hits me. All the trees dance and sing, their branches clapping with the force of air. Pines whistle, cedars whoosh, and then with this newest gust I hear the oaks.

It is a rattle, their heavy broad leaves shaking a steady percussion, giving texture to the higher and middle tones.

The birds continue to chat and sing, joined by chipmunks and squirrels and cedars and pines and oaks. The sun rises over the hill to the east, bathing me in its warm soothing light. I close my eyes and nod my head with the rhythm of the forest harmony.

The Spirit whispers peace into my soul. Ah, there. The melody begins.

Labor Day

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A return to more considered posts tomorrow. Today, on Labor Day, I have a bug:

insect of some sort

Rufous sided towhee family

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rufous sided towhee fledgling
rufous sided towhee feeding fledgling

Northern “red-shafted” Flicker

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half moon above the southern ridge

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half moon and clouds
half moon and clouds

bugs and birds

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Something to break up the constant attention to sin we’ve fallen into in these parts.

A bug:

a bug, a flying bug of some kind, more properly called an insect.

A western bluebird. Haven’t seen these around here too often.

western bluebird
western bluebird

white-breasted nuthatch:

white breasted nuthatch

Santa Rosa Island

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Went to Santa Rosa Island and took some pictures.

Santa Rosa Island

A lot of pictures. Some on the beach, some in the hills, some in the forest, some in camp, some by a stream, some of birds, some of deer, some of the ocean, some under the ocean.

Santa Rosa has a quality to it that I felt more than noticed on a previous trip by it on the way to San Miguel. There is a mystical air, something deep and spiritual. So I was curious to land on it and see what this was, if indeed there was anything.

There were moments I tasted of this, but not too strong. However, on the last day I realized my reaction. Santa Rosa has been a cattle farm for more than 150 years. It is, in fact, the last remnant of original Mexican land grants given to wealthy men hundreds of years ago. This land grant passed through hands until it reached a large cattle company which still has rights to the island until 2011.

Have you ever seen an antique desk which someone painted over in a garish blue or green to match the present fashions. Scrape off the layers and there is a beautiful oak underneath. Santa Rosa has been painted over. It has been stamped with cattle operations and all other sorts of human presence so that it isn’t quite reflecting its full character. Wait five years more and it’ll be more clear. Wait another fifty and we’ll be able to see the island for what it should be. The wonderful thing is that unlike many other natural wonders this island is indeed on its way to recovery. It has moments of mysticism still left in it.

And it certainly was a wonderful trip, a very interesting place to visit, and a welcomed balm for my soul. Plus, I can say I have visited all the Channel Islands, and now can revisit them each for their own particular gifts and personality.

I’m back

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snorkeling on Santa Rosa Island

I got home around 10:00 last night after five days away, four of which were spent on Santa Rosa Island. This was an accomplishment of sorts as now I’ve been to all the islands which are part of the Channel Islands national park. That’s a fine thing to do in my mind, which is why I got to doing it. Good times were had on Santa Rosa. One day was spent stepping in. One day was spent stepping away. One day was spent hiking the dusty, almost barren interior, while the next was spent wandering the beach, the pines above the beach, and the water on the other side of the beach.

I have quite a few pictures and some thoughts on this island’s personality coming up in a little while.