This morning, the clouds have covered our sky in a nice, thick, comforting blanket of calm. The firefighters can use the break! Over by Mt. Hood, at Gnarl Ridge and Cooper Spur it's a real mess right now.

Every year at this time, the rain forest dries out. Every year at this time, the foliage everywhere drains of its accustomed, lush green, and the grass and all the underbrush starts to have a kind of golden brown cast to it. The huckleberry stems turn red, and the vine maple allows its fiery and tenacious heart to show through its leaves, against the background of all the Doug fir and other cone trees. And this year, the cone trees are producing cones like crazy! I'll be able to gather up a large pile of nice cones this year, I think. I used to have them to decorate with at Christmastime, but they got kind of crunched and beat up over the years of packing and unpacking them, and I need some more.

This is such a color-saturated time of year. The whole of the outdoors is as deeply satisfying as any textile store or art museum. I drink in all the color as deeply as ever I drank something cool in the heat of summer, and I sip it as delicately and headily as ever I sipped a good champagne with seared scallops or crab bisque (the best combo in the world - champagne and seafood). The whole world seems to me to be ready to burst into flame during this annual fire season - to flame out at the end of the year, and settle into the cold, dark winter of sleep and rest.

In metaphor, it seems fitting. But God bless the hotshots. We've lost enough of them recently -- may there be no more losses for a long, long time.

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