Lots of excitement here on the Hill and around the surrounding countryside recently. We got our first taste of fire season last week; a relatively small (about 18 acres) but persistent brush fire broke out just off the Sacramento Rail Trail in a section that parallels the Sacramento River a few miles above the Keswick Dam. The area lies roughly 5 miles or so due east of us, and is clearly visible from our deck, so we had a pretty good look at the ongoing effort to beat the blaze down, which occupied CalFire, Shasta County Fire, and Redding Fire for quite a while. CalFire had at least 2 helicopters dedicated to scooping water out of the river for drops into the fire site, and one agency (not sure if it was CalFire or BLM equipment) had 2 air tankers dropping retardant concurrently. Not sure how many ground troops and engines were involved, but at least one inmate firefighter was injured in the effort, and the show went on into the night. I know it sounds like overkill for an 18 acre fire, but that;s not the case:due to the ongoing drought the forest fire fuel loads are the worst since records have been kept, and the point of origin was very near a large subdivision that runs almost to the river. If it hadn't been contained early it could have easily wiped out a number of homes and done harm to residents, as well. Our California fire agencies are some of the best in the world, and it seems likely that we'll get our money's worth from them this year. So, for all you morons who bitch, complain, and put up your moronic signs protesting the annual CalFire fee (tax, if you will), just shut the hell up and pay it. Get one less tattoo this year if that's how you finance it, but close your mouth and do it. Thank you.
We had just returned from our latest trip to the coast when the fire occurred, so it was non-stop excitement for a solid week between the two. As always, life got sweeter from the moment we dropped into Trinity Canyon on the drive over until we topped out on Buckhorn Summit on the return, Eureka seemed to be a little more energetic than usual this trip, and Trinidad a little less so, but everything balanced in the end, and all was as it should be. We also made the trip down 101 to Ferndale once more, and spent more time trying to see the town as it's seen by those who call it home than we've done in the past. Time well spent, as it turned out; the little town has quite a history, some of which we'll get into a bit deeper after I've had time to do some more research. Although it can seem to some to be a little macabre, and maybe places better avoided to others, you can often learn a lot about a town or city by studying its cemeteries and graveyards, and Ferndale is one of those. Anyway, we'll get to that in the next week or so.
To change the subject, but maybe only slightly, a quick note regarding my building fascination with Mt. Shasta. Most of my reading so far has been centered on the mountain's place in the human history of Northern California and southern Oregon: the native tribes of the area, white settlement, the logging industry and its havoc, and mountaineering in its various aspects. However, as I've mentioned here in the past, there has always been detritus scattered around in books, newspapers, magazines, and on the net relating to shall we say "out of the ordinary happenings" in the vicinity, specifically UFO sightings, odd lights in the skies over and around the mountain, reports of encounters with strange beings on the mountain, etc. These, of course, have stuck in my mind and fired new interests, even though I never spent any time chasing after them for fairly obvious reasons, at least to me. However, several months ago, while running an Ebay search of the Books section I was surprised when several titles popped up that referenced the Shasta/ Lumerian connection, of which I was totally ignorant, I have to admit, and about which I don't know a whole lot more yet, even though I am now the owner of more than one of those books. I think I had some vague recollection of hearing at some much earlier date (probably the late '60s or early '70s, recalling some of the people with whom I had brief association in those days) references to this mystical/mythical lost continent which existed concurrently with Atlantis, but in the south Pacific. Legend has it that the land was populated by an advanced civilization of beautiful beings, who may have been even more creative and artistic than the Atlanteans. To make a long story short,at some point the continent vanished into the ocean, like its Atlantic counterpart, and the civilization was lost. Turns out, though, that there has been, since at least the late 1800s, a developing theory (at least among Lemuria believers, of which there seems to be a fairly large and clannish number scattered across the world) that survivors of the cataclysm fled to what is now Northern California, and made a new home within the mountain we now know as Mt. Shasta. And, again according to myth and legend, the descendants of those survivors are still there, and thriving inside their mountain home. Occasionally they venture to the surface and interact with people they encounter on the mountain, or nearby, and these encounters are source of the infrequent stories we see published in local newspapers and broadcast on small-market television stations that refer to the Shasta "UFO" sightings and/or encounters with strange folk. So, this opens a new door on the mountain, so to speak, and promises to be a very interesting sidebar to the whole Shasta culture. We'll see.
To close, I just wanted to say my personal adios to good ol' Donald Trump, who has embarrassed himself, his family, and his country yet again, but this time with such an absence of class and conscience as to offend in one way or another most decent Americans. And, as it happens, the Donald discovered that he was incorrect in stating that the golf world supported him tremendously "because we "all knew he was right"; on the contrary, we didn't all know he was right, nor did we support him, and he has now been sent packing by both the USGA and PGA, and we can all move on.
Coming up...trying to understand what has happened to one of California's most venerable wineries (and one of the wine industry's best old families), Sonoma's Foppianos.