I moved out to California in 2004, and quickly realized that the San Francisco area had no seasons. “Winter” in January, it’s 65 degrees and occasionally rains a bit. “Summer” in July, it’s 70 degrees and never rains. That’s it. In Cincinnati you get a larger range of weather in a single day.

Now, unfortunately, we have a season. Fire season. It wasn’t always like this. A few years ago, maybe 2017, I went camping and woke up in the morning and noticed our tents were speckled with ash. Since then, every year there have been days where smoke covered the sky.

Growing up, school was canceled on snow days. Here, the kids have smoke days.

Fire season isn’t really in the traditional summer. It’s a bit later, more like September through October. Around here those months are drier and perhaps hotter than June or July. The time formerly known as “fall”. It’s appropriate to have a new name for this season, because the leaves mostly don’t fall off the trees here.

Right now, it’s a smoke day. Mid-eighties, and it’s too smoky outside to open the windows. My house, like a lot of houses around here, doesn’t even have air conditioning. The kids are all at home, because school is remote, because of coronavirus, which also means we can’t drive somewhere like an office that does have air conditioning. So it’s just everyone hanging out in this hot sweaty box, staring at the smoky hellscape outside. Waiting for the earth to fix itself.

At least the sunsets are beautiful. The smoke makes layers of glowing orange and pink and the sun itself looks like a neon ball.