Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Wednesday Vignette: Autumn's Darker Side

Unlike gardeners in cold winter climates, Southern California gardeners generally welcome autumn, which is frequently referred to here as our second spring.  Temperatures drop and our winter rainy season draws closer, making it a great time to plant.  I've been working on renovating one of my larger succulent beds and I'd planned to cover that in my next post but the arrival of our Santa Ana winds offered an opportunity to reveal autumn's darker side: the brushfires that all too frequently accompany our seasonal Santa Ana winds.  Unfortunately, what was billed as a "mild" Santa Ana wind event nonetheless fanned a major fire on Monday afternoon, leading to the evacuation of 1500 people at its height.  The latest update is that the fire is just 15% contained.

Monday night's sunset lit up the clouds of smoke in shades of pink that belied the fire's fury

But this early sunrise shot captured by my husband on Tuesday spoke more clearly of the fire's danger


We're fortunate to be 50 to 60 miles from the fire so, other than its impact on air quality, the Canyon Fire hasn't affected us directly.  However, as we do live in a fire danger area, any local fire puts us on edge and has us sniffing the air for the tell-tale smell of smoke.  My in-laws' home went up in flames in the 1993 Malibu Fire and I've never forgotten the heartbreak of that event.  I empathize with anyone impacted by such fires and I react negatively to any thoughtless individuals who put their neighbors at risk with careless behavior like setting off fireworks or tossing cigarettes in tinder-dry areas.

On a less sinister note, two other sightings drew my attention during the twilight hours this week:

I believe this is a red-tailed hawk, the most common bird of prey in our area.  This fellow landed in our mimosa tree Sunday night and just sat there, staring in the direction of our house.  I took this photo from directly below him on our backyard patio.  No hawk has ever allowed me to get that close.

In contrast, this spider (presumably some kind of orb weaver) cared not a whit that I was standing right next to her as she busily created a new web right across an area I walk through every day.  I unintentionally broke her web but I fully expect to see a replacement the next time I round that same corner.


Visit Anna at Flutter & Hum to view other images participating bloggers found interesting this week.


All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

18 comments:

  1. What a great shot of the hawk! Hope the fires stay far away from you and the winds die down enough to let you get some work done.

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    1. The winds were expected to continue through the week but fortunately it hasn't been bad here since Monday night.

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  2. Kris, I'm sorry that you live with those fires looming over you! I can't imagine losing all my worldly possessions like your in-laws did....
    What a beautiful picture of the red-tailed Hawk. They are common here, too. One circles this area every morning, calling out.....I could never figure out why, if you're hunting, you're not quiet!

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    1. Your noisy hawk is interesting, Sally. Those that visit here are utterly silent, unlike the crows.

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  3. It must be terrifying to be at the whim of wild nature - earthquakes, wind and fire. We live in a pretty tame landscape in comparison. Tornadoes, hurricanes and blizzards are rare, thankfully.
    Maybe that hawk saw Pipig snoozing through the window! Yikes!
    I had an orb weaver for weeks at the end of my clothesline. I felt bad disturbing her creations, trying to minimize the damage done, giving her wide berth. I expect she did her job and has moved on. Orb weavers are cool spiders, if you're not squeamish. :)

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    1. I wondered about Pipig's whereabouts after the fact. She's not allowed outside but that doesn't mean she doesn't try to get there. She did follow me to the door when I went outside to get a better shot of the hawk but my husband picked her up before she did anything stupid. I don't mind the spiders, at least not until I unwittingly walk into one of their webs.

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  4. What a horrible season it’s been for fires... hope those 1500 people are home soon.

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    1. The evacuation orders were lifted at 10am today but I'm still not clear how far they've gotten in containing the fire - the last update, also from this morning, said 20%.

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  5. It's scary with fires even though they are not so close!
    Understand that it is worrying in dry times.
    We felt worried earlier this summer when it was so dry here.
    But with you, it's obviously very common with fires this time.
    Hope you get rain soon.
    Mariana

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    1. There's no rain in the forecast until November but at least the winds have died down!

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  6. That sunrise shot is awesome, and the one of the hawk. All in all, not a bad Santa Ana Wind event.

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    1. At least the high winds didn't persist even if they did manage to kick up a fire. Our temperature here reached 90F today - I hope that cooling trend the forecasters have mentioned is on its way!

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  7. The smoke in your husband's shot says it all... All these fires are so scary. I hope they manage to control it before all those houses are engulfed. Love your animal shots as well. I'm a big fan of all the spider webs glittering in the sunlight this time of year. Silly me, I apologize to the artists every time I crash through one - which happens more than I care to admit. I think I'm far bigger than the prey they originally spun their webs for. :)

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    1. The good news is that the evacuation orders have all been lifted. Although some 300 homes were in the line of danger at one time, I believe only a couple of structures were damaged by this fire.

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  8. Hope the fire is out without too much harm done.

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    1. Two thousand acres were burned and a couple of structures were reportedly destroyed but no lives were lost so the outcome was better by far than most of our fires.

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  9. Your fire images are terrifying; we also had many fires this summer and a friend's house was about 3 metres from being destroyed, the fire brigade arrived literally just in time. Many of the fires here were either intentionally lit or lit by stupid people throwing down cigarettes.

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    1. I can imagine your friend's terror at having fire get that close, Christina. Fires fanned by our Santa Ana winds are a perennial problem here but human stupidity and maliciousness is frequently also a factor. The massive fire that took my in-laws' home years ago was the result of arson.

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