Weather strange to these parts broke the back of the heat wave this morning. Sometime around 4:00am a breeze introduced its way into the room. The ominous, almost subsonic booms of distant thunder filled the air. And as dawn broke I looked at a sky painted with a frothy caramel mix of smoke from the brush fires and a line of monsoon storms stretching a hundred miles to the southwest, from Ojai to the Cortez Banks.

Indeed, there is nothing new about the tang of brush fire smoke tin the air his time of year. Monsoons, on the other hand, are a strange guest. They rarely show up this far north and west, choosing instead to boil up out of the Gulf of California and into the Sonoran desert to soak Phoenix and Tucson. The mix is novel, and portentous.

The storms will pass, the fires will abate. But this morning’s sky hints at a more abiding change, and leaves behind a grain of foreboding.