Friday, September 17, 2021

Love Letters to My Life #39 - Do I still need a migratory life?

Acorns with acorn weevil grub

(We know the day we were born, but most of us do not know the day we will die. This love letter to my life is written on the day I've designated as my death day: the 17th of every month, and reminds me to be grateful for my incredible life.)

Pinezanita Cycles
the poplars are turning yellow;
one red leaf glows on my favorite maple;
ravens are soaring, always watching;
woodpeckers fill their granaries while
acorn larvae wriggle free and fall
to the ground from a perfectly round hole 
then burrow into the soil for two years 
before re-emerging as adult acorn weevils
in order to begin the cycle anew.

Climate change shifted my own cycle of migration, bringing me back early to what is supposed to be my winter residence. Dixie, a monster wildfire, largest in California history and covering almost a million acres, raged through my summer place, consuming homes, towns, landmarks, and businesses. Fortunately for me, it left my lakeside trailer unblemished, other than a refrigerator that went rancid while the power was off.

While the debate ranges about who or what to blame for the devastation, one fact stands out for me: the moisture content for processed lumber averages 15%. Northern California’s forests average about 5%. We are in the midst of a mega drought which is drying up the state’s key reservoirs and turning forests into standing kindling. Climate change experts say this could be just the beginning.

Choke cherries - I got to watch the cycle from bloom to berry.

Last week I logged 1400 miles, driving to Lake Almanor for what I expected to be two or three weeks of enjoying the lake after almost a month of being evacuated because of the fires. I awoke my first morning there to a power outage and no information about cause or duration.

On the second morning, my patience had thinned and I wanted information so I headed for a Chester coffee shop where I found that all of the small downtown area was running on emergency generators and the expectation for return of power was 20 days. The local power station had been destroyed by the fire and apparently the back-up substation had just been knocked out.

Even after a monster fire, the lake is still stunning

With that information, I decided to shut down the trailer for the season and return to Julian, grateful that I had a place to return to. On the return trip, a friend texted that the power had been restored. Who knows where the 20 day estimate had come from? However, I was already packed up and decided to continue toward Julian.

Driving through the heart-stopping beauty of the Eastern Sierra

Something happens to my head when I’m on a long trip. Having nothing better to do, it builds castles in the air and I, thinking they are real, move in and start rearranging the furniture. As always, this trip ended and the castle poofed. 

It was a fun ride though and now I get to sort out the grains of reality from the toppling pile of fantasy.

One jewel of reality is being back in Julian in the oak woodlands of Pinezanita RV Park in my cozy RV where the woodpeckers screech through the clean mountain air. They remind me that they build granary trees so they don’t have to migrate. And, I wonder: do I need to keep wandering south to north; north to south? What would nourish me enough to stay put in this embracing land all year round?

Maybe this is the beginning of my wisdom years ... 

Fall begins in Pinezanita


  1. You touch on so many types of "nourishment." The forests, the life destroying drought as well as what each of us needs to "nourish" ourselves. Your mental and physical ramblings make me think. Susan Larson