California Dreaming

A somewhat late welcome to the most depressing time in California, Fire Season. Today we finally got our first “fire sky” here in the Central Valley. The sun peeps through a dense layer of smoke and throws a beautiful, golden light on things. From a photographer’s point of view, there is no better light. From the perspective of someone who needs to breath, it downright sucks. Usually, this lasts several weeks before we can breath decent air again.

We are in a drought. Severe water restrictions will be called for, and I think the governor is only waiting to get past his recall election to implement them.

Adding to the problem, this summer we have had more Covid-19 cases than last summer, despite the massive dispensation of the vaccines in the previous six months. Any Californian adult who wanted to get vaccinated has had the opportunity to do so. Curiously, I now know more people with covid-19 than I did last year in the same period, and a few of them are fully vaccinated. The hated mask mandate is back. The State, the Federal Government and the private industry are pressing people to get their shots, and some local bars and restaurants have taken upon themselves to ban custommers who cannot prove that they have been vaccinated. Fewer businesses (but they do exist), forbid the entry of the vaccinated. The vaccine rollout has opened another wedge between Californians: the vaccinated against the unvaccinated.

The photographs on this post were taken during a hike I did with my son back in June in Napa County. The Palisades trail to Table Rock, at the Robert Louis Stevenson State Park, used to be one of our favorite hikes back some 10 years ago. In the past few years, Napa has been ravaged by fires and we didn’t attempt to hike there for a long time. Currently, there is little left to burn in that county.

Madrone and Coniferous tree, Palisades Trail near the parking lot, 2021
Manzanita Patch, Palisades Trail near Table Rock, 2021
View from the Palisades Trail near Table Rock, 2021

Published by Alessandra Chaves

Photographer with a preference for nature photography in black and white and other abstractions.

13 thoughts on “California Dreaming

  1. I’ve been reading David George Haskell’s ‘The Song of Trees’ and, coincidentally, I just reached the part of the chapter called ‘Redwood and Ponderosa Pine’ where he begins talking about how fires shape the woods (Florissant Colorado), so seeing your post was one of those ‘fun’ coincidences.

    We’re not know for woodland fires here in Connecticut (at least, not in my area), but this year I’ve started to hear warnings that they could happen. There are a lot of things about California I love and wish for here (most especially the Pacific Ocean – not a big fan of the Atlantic); fire season is not one of them.

    Also, I found this interesting: ‘Fewer businesses (but they do exist), forbid the entry of the vaccinated.’ What’s the pretext for keeping the vaccinated out? Potential undiagnosed carriers?


    1. Wild Fires are part of the natural ecosystems renewal here in California and are needed for the redwoods and giant sequoias and other plants to germinate, but a number of factors that have to do with human occupation have magnified them and transformed wildfires into a problem. Throughout the pandemics there have been businesses popping here and there that went against measures to control the pandemics such as masks and social distancing and now, vaccines. A small and insignificant portion of the population believe that the presence of vaccinated people can somehow impact the fertility of unvaccinated people, amongst other fears. In Florida, not long ago, a school announced That they would fire any teachers who got the vaccine, for that “reason” (impact the future fertility of students). Go figure.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Our 2017 visit to Montana, southwestern Alberta, and southeastern British Columbia coincided with extensive wildfires in the region, so I experienced the kind of light that makes its way through smoky haze. Though that prevented me from getting some of the iconic landscape pictures I’d hoped for, it compensated by creating atmospheric views of a sort I’d never had the chance to photograph before. More opportunities for pictures like those should be coming your way.


  3. I can only imagine what it is like being so close to the fire zones. We do have some very basic signs of what is happening all the way out here in MI with an occasional smokey sunrise from the drifting smoke from the West. Pile on top the other things going on out there right now must make it hard to concentrate (or give incentive) on creative pursuits. It must be incredibly difficult to revisit those favorite places where not much remains but burnt twigs.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That sounds really horrible. I have family living in the valley, and it makes the story hit so much closer to home. I hope the fires subside soon and you guys seem some more rain this year.

    Liked by 1 person

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