Rain dropping on the skylight, beginning in the middle of the night, caused me to imagine a thousand ballerinas pirouetting on tip toes, as I listened to the sound I have not heard here in maybe a year. One of the driest years I can remember, with the one of California’s biggest wild fires to help prove the point. My brother-in-law called to tell me the rain has nearly killed the big Yosemite fire, bringing an atmosphere of thankfulness and relief to the troubled mountain people who live around the perimeter of it.
The redwood forest that surrounds me suddenly exudes a natural perfume that seems to have risen from wet needles on the floor. Even though the rain lasted only a day, the effects of it continue. I see more animals rummaging about in the bushes close by. In the afternoon yesterday a skunk came waddling toward our house, but I was able to toss a few rocks at him and drive him back before he got within range of me.
The deer this time of year seem to develop a holy boldness that drives them to walk up and down the roads and streets near the village. Every fall so many of them are flattened by inattentive drivers. The roads get their first bath of the season and float a thin film of oil and dirt to the surface, but so many drivers have no regard for changes in road conditions. My first side-slip many years ago taught me to anticipate the unexpected when rain first comes.
The air has turned cooler, too, in the evenings. Last night I conducted another outdoor propane bonfire as the moon rose out of the forest. The full moon is unwinding now from its cycle, and last night was shaped like a giant guitar pick hanging in the sky. Propane can be so nice when I only want to sit out thirty minutes, for a quick, night-time grab of the stars. Oh yes, I saw one long meteor zip across the apex of the heavens. I can be out many nights without seeing one, so whenever I do see one I feel blessed.
One of my friends came over for a real bonfire–one fueled with wood–in the early evening, a couple of nights ago, only hours before the rain settled in. He had just returned from a two-week vacation to Italy and was eager to share an account of the sites and wonders he visited, as well as his opinions of the woman who accompanied him on this trip. He saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and ate a pizza while there. I would do that. His favorite spot, where he spent about a week, was in and around the town of Santa Margherita, on the Mediterranean. He tells me that we have a similar climate here on the Monterey Bay, but the sea there is at least ten degrees warmer, and more conducive to swimming.
We poked at the bonfire, loaded in another armful of wood, and stayed awake til midnight. Still the rain did not come in as I had expected might happen, so we talked longer about our usual newsy topics: politics, finance, technology–the subjects we always lapse into when the night goes long on us, and the fire invites wakefulness and camaraderie.
This morning the air is cooler. The sun still sits below the tree line. The first warming beams of light are hidden. I stay indoors and flick on the natural gas fireplace. It has so quickly become the season for seeking out warmth.