Sharon Randall: Another day in paradise
Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 16, 2022
The calendar in my kitchen tried to tell me it’s still spring, but I found it hard to believe.
We live in a valley, 15 miles inland from Monterey Bay in Northern California. Our weather is pretty much perfect year round. Winter gets cold. Summer warms up. Spring and fall are mild. But every day, in any weather, I give thanks for “another day in Paradise.”
Imagine my surprise yesterday when a thermometer out our kitchen window registered 100 degrees. In the shade. At 9 a.m.
Seriously? In my experience, the best way to judge weather is to stick your head out the door. So I did. For 10 whole seconds. Until I started to sweat and thought I might pass out.
So I shut the door, cranked up the A.C. and downed a glass of cold water. A while later, my husband said he was going out to the garage to work on music for a gig he’s to play next week.
“It’s hot out there,” I warned.
“I won’t stay long,” he said.
Minutes later, he was back looking as if he might pass out.
“It’s hot out there,” he said, as he cranked up the A.C. and downed a glass of cold water.
I’ve lived in several climates. Growing up in the Carolinas, weather was exciting. Winter brought ice and snow. Summer was even more exciting with thunder and lightning, tornadoes and occasional hurricanes.
I loved it. Winter or summer, I wanted to be outside in the thick of it. My mother thought I was crazy. Especially after I grew up and moved off to California and its earthquakes.
(Note: In all my decades in California, I’ve experienced only one major earthquake. One is enough. Another could happen any time. But for the record, I’ve felt only one big one so far.)
I raised my children by the ocean. They wore jackets out to play in the summer fog.
Years later, a job change took my husband and me to Las Vegas for 12 years. Having spent a lifetime in Southern humidity and Pacific Coast fog, I actually liked the dryness of the desert.
When my husband retired, we moved back to California, and now live in Carmel Valley.
I wish you could see it.
Every place is a piece of Paradise if we choose to see it clearly. The mountains that cradle this valley remind me of where I was born. And they keep assuring me that I am home.
Unlike the South, California gets most of its rain in winter, almost none in summer. In late spring, emerald green hills will turn golden, then brown. And suddenly, it’s wildfire season.
Summer before last, we left home three times due to fire — twice when smoke made the air unbearable, and once for a mandatory evacuation. Our home was spared, but nearby, others burned to the ground.
I love summer, but I’m no fan of fire season. With less rainfall and record heat, this summer could be one of our worst.
So yesterday, when the temperature hit 100, I kept my cool, so to speak, and repacked the emergency get-out-quick bag that I keep under the bed. It’s stuffed with a few clothes and other things I’d need if, God forbid, we had to run.
My husband has his own bag. Most of our photos and records are saved electronically. But we also keep a couple of boxes we’d grab on our way to the car.
That’s about all we’d have time to take if we woke in the night (as friends did in Calistoga) and saw flames racing up the hill.
Our house is a scrapbook filled with keepsakes, a lifetime of treasures we never want to lose.
But life is teaching us to (1) know what’s important; (2) hold everything loosely, except for the people we hold dear; and (3) refuse to live in fear.
We’ll do what we can to be prepared, keep an eye out for smoke and give thanks for every day, whatever it may bring.
Here’s wishing you and yours a safe and lovely summer in your own piece of Paradise.
Sharon Randall is the author of “The World and Then Some.” She can be reached at P.O. Box 922, Carmel Valley CA 93924 or www.sharonrandall.com.