Cottonwood Moon

Dusk on Shabbat and Solstice in the shadow of Mt. Whitney. Lake Diaz, Lone Pine, California.

I’ve just arrived in Lone Pine from Reno after a fitful night, a full day of work and a six hour drive down US-395. The rest of the Troop is en route from Ventura, ETA long after nightfall.

I’m enjoying the peace, the sound of the birds, of the families camping across the road, and even the sounds of watercraft grabbing a few last minutes of fun before dark.

The jackrabbits are on patrol, and so are the ants. It’s a gorgeous night, and stress leaks from me.


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.