Still Smoking, But It’s Cool

Kage Baker loved the transformations of the seasons.

That’s a little weird for a born Angelina, as our seasons here in the Basin are often eccentric and usually delicate. But we native children of the place know how to discern them; by the time we hit adolescence, we also know how to laugh to scorn the tourists who don’t think we have any seasons at all. For your information, visiting ignoramuses (ignoramusi?), the Earth rotates on its axis here just as well as the Midwest or the East Coast; the nutation, or changeable angle of that rotation, precesses back and forth just as much for us as for you. The solstices and equinoxes still appear.

What Kage liked especially about the change to Autumn was the speed of the season. We can drift into Summer or Winter, on slow rising tides of warmth or ice. Spring often ducks back and forth between tender blossoms and ruthless frost. But Autumn – Autumn happens like a falling curtain, black velvet across the entire horizon, casting the world into shadows that stay, blue and cold as steel, halfway to noon …

The leaves fall off the trees, too, whoosh! Like a cartoon. Two days ago, our mulberry tree looked like the Queen of the May. Today it’s bare branches, and the exposed squirrels are in a panic. Kage liked that cartoon segue effect.

Halloween is usually the first cold night of the year, somehow. It’s one of the last where you get to run around crazily, too, as we were accustomed to do when we were children in the long, long summers. It’s the perfect pivot of night, the best of the two seasons, balanced on the knife edge of celebration and hysteria. Plus, there is candy.

The Trick or Treaters were a bit on the light side this year. The smell of smoke, the ashes on the wind, are appropriate stage dressing for Samhain, but not easy on little lungs. Parents seemed to be keeping a lot of the kids at home, and I’m sure the fires contributed to that; especially here in the South, where the fires didn’t really take off until Halloween night. Now there are fires in Brentwood, San Bernardino, Riverside, Santa Paula, Simi: only yestreday, a recycling yard a few miles from my house caught fire and burned all night. An automotive center went up today in Van Nuys, and I think it’s still smouldering.

There’s black smoke everywhere. Empty houses all over the city have been catching fire, 2 or 3 per day. I assume they are the victims of desperate homeless folks trying to keep warm through the nights. Those nights are suddenly, very suddenly, outright cold. There is snow in the mountains. It’s looking like a good year to stay away from Donner Pass – it can get … fraught up there, when snow comes as early as Halloween.

Of course, it’s been raining, sleeting, blowing and snowing all over the rest of the United States already. The storms, just today, dislodged a derelict boat on the rocks above Niagara Falls, a boat that had been hanging there for 101 freaking years. Yowza! All we’re doing here so far is burning to a crisp – pieces of our landscape won’t start falling down or washing off until it rains. If it rains, of course. That is in no way guaranteed, Dear Readers, here in the Dragon Hills.

And in the meanwhile, I am started right in on NaNoWriMo. I’ve met my goals for the first 2 days (ta da!) and even acquired a writing buddy. (Hi, Neassa!) I’m not exactly brimming with vigour and enthusiasm, but I have finally managed to kindle a low, slow flame in myself. Going up like cannon fire or flash paper seems contraindicated this year. I shall aim for embers, a fire I can  bank at night and blow back to life every morning.

That’ll give me time to find new fuel each day, before I am reduced to breaking up the furniture. Whatever burns, folks; whatever give light and heat now that the days are drawing down and down.

Oh, and that’ll leave me something to sit on while I write. Kage was always big on that, too.

 

 

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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