November 13, 2018

The air quality in Oakland is terrible.  The Camp Fire in Butte County has been raging since last Wednesday and is only 25% contained. The deadliest fire in California history,  over 131,000 acres burned to date and the town of Paradise entirely lost.  Catherine called to be reassured that neither the Ranch or Oakland was in the path of the fire.  I cannot imagine the destructiveness of an off chance spark that the wind whips into its own uncontrollable down draft.

What surprised me was the pall of smoke across the entire Central Valley, even up into the foothills.  We have a broken layer of smoke here at the Ranch.  Public health officials say to expect smoky air through the rest of the week.

The grassland on the rolling hills was beautiful as I came in through Jackson Valley Road and turned onto Deer Ridge Lane in the late afternoon.  Hard not to be haunted by images of vast acreage that is burned out before the townspeople of Paradise even have a chance to react.

I pruned the lantana in Oakland on Sunday and probably should have worn a surgical mask.  Fortunately, I have masks here at the Ranch because the drug stores are likely to be sold out.

I was at the Dry Garden in Berkeley this morning, looking for an agave to replace the rhaphiolepis that did not survive the summer.  I found two beautiful specimens – a light green one with a broad leaf and a darker green rosette with deep red tips. I spent several minutes pondering which of them would look best in that spot. The solution when it came to me was obvious – when in doubt, buy them both.

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