Mountain Life

Stormy mountainsI live in the mountains.  Not technically in the actual mountain mountains, but in a valley surrounded by mountains.  At an elevation of 3000 ft. and being that I am in Northern California we are in what the Sunset gardening book calls a zone 1.  That means at any time of the year we can get snow or a freeze.  Yup, ever heard of snow in July?  Well it has actually happened here.  Not to me personally, but it has happened.

Usually though, the weather is pretty typical.  The past few days have been in that category after a week of nights down in the twenties.  We’ve had sun, a little too much, and warm temps, a bit more than I want.  But it’s finally Spring.
I mowed the lawns the other night, which is a challenge and a half using the electric mower (my parents say the gas is way worse, quit complaining) and dealing with all the excess weeds and various rock piles I may or may not run over.  But oh, when the lawn is mowed it looks so lovely.  Perfect.  Even the tall weed patches have some defined shape.
Throw in a sweet resinous smell that comes down from the mountains after the pines have baked all day in the sun, and then good clean spring smell and you have somewhat the epitome of the mountains.  Okay, it is actually better when you smell wood smoke but that was nixed the other  due to it being warm.  However there were the distant sounds of a dance going on at the small rodeo grounds.  Today is our annual local rodeo.  A joke in itself.  I’ve been once and I’m not impressed, but I love the sounds that come up from the rodeo grounds.  And it turns out after going up into town today and seeing the signs posted that it wasn’t a dance but actual rodeo proceedings.  Personally I would rather picture a rodeo dance on the grounds.  More fun, inspirational, romantic that way.

The mountains are cool, unique and very much me.  I told my cousin recently that was a city girl, and it’s very true. I am very girly girly, though I have to stick with jeans and boots most of the time due to living in the country/mountains.  However, I while I would love to wear heels and skirts more, have sidewalks and stores that actually carry what I want, I love being in the mountains.  I love that a storm can come up out of nowhere, which it did today. I love being able to step out at night and see all the constellations and stars.  Oh the stars you can see in the mountains.  So clear, so bright. I love the smell of pine, sweet grass, and cow manure.  I love seeing all the birds and having deer walking down the street, a la Northern Exposure style.  The mountains are kind of my home place.  I don’t have an actual home place after moving around all my life, but I could say I feel most at home in the mountains.

Signing off

~Kate

Smoke Gets In My Eyes

Ah, the summer heat.  Hot days, warm nights. Humidity if you live where it’s humid. ( I sort of do just because we water so much the humidity is way higher in the back yard then if you walk to the street where it’s nice and dry.) And that first acrid burning scent of chlorine…..

Not from swimming pools.

No.

The chlorine smell is from the wildfires. I live in Northern California and it is pretty much a guarantee that at some point in the summer, there will be a wildfire, or forest fire, somewhere.  Anywhere. Oregon, California, Nevada, etc. One of the western states will at some point be burning.

The skies take on that hazy blue that is really more of a greyish hue and everything is dingy looking. LIke that feeling at the end of summer when everything is dry and tired.  But it could be the first week in July, or the early part of June.

Ours came this year mid June. So far, it hasn’t been too bad.  Yep, there was a fire somewhere.  Someone mentioned around Clear Lake, but I can’t quote that.

 It’s a common occurence for this area. I remember one year where the fires started in July, like on the 4th, and lasted clear through till the rains came…. In November.  And we are not talking just a little smoke.  Picture grey skies all day and by evening, as the sun sets, the world takes on this hazy pink hue that is somewhat eery.

And yet, it isn’t summer unless I smell a fire.  I kind of like it, even if it is a fire.  I know that the fires are crucial for the whole circle of life thing, so I respect them and think them needed in the forests where there is so much overgrowth that plants that used to be there, can no longer live.

I think I can be quite happy and pass at the thick smoke that comes from bad or close fires, but a fire is all part of the summer for me and living in the mountains.

Signing off

~Kate