Thursday, June 26, 2008

Red Sky in the Morning, Sailor Take Warning

In which talk about the weather

Above is the classic San Francisco tourist snap -- with a twist.

It all started last Saturday, a very peculiar Saturday indeed. For one thing, I went to Alcatraz for the very first time. Twenty-two years -- more or less -- in The City and I finally get to The Rock. I had friends in from Southern California who I was showing around. One of them got sick the night before from some bad sea food from Chez Panisse, of all places (damn you, Alice Waters!), leaving them with an extra ticket.

But the real peculiarity was the weather. Saturday was hot -- in the 90s -- and humid like the Gulf Coast. The air was still without so much as a breath of wind. The steely sky was dappled with the sort of white clouds you see in Nebraska in July, just before a tornado.

Then there was the lightening -- thousands of strikes all across the Northern half of the state. Lightening with no rain. It was so strange that the Governator blamed global warming.

We didn't see or hear the lightening strikes from Alcatraz, but we saw the thick, ominous plumes of smoke as they began to rise away north, over the golden hills past the San Rafael bridge. Lightening had sparked the fire that still burns in Solano and Napa, and the tawny tendrils of smoke have been drifting over the bay and The City for some days now, staining the world a threatening orange.

Something like a thousand fires are now burning across the state, some from the lightening, others from the negligence of man.

People walk around the downtown streets, their faces tinctured orange, looking like they've just slathered themselves with a liberal amount of Fake-Bake sunless tanning cream.


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