Hello from the Apocalypse

It was dark this morning when I woke up on the sofa. My husband came in around 8, while I was reading the news. I said, “It’s so dark this morning.”

He said, “Have you seen the color of the sky?”


It was hard to get a photo of the true color of the air. My phone kept trying to up the white balance and brighten things up.

There’s construction going on in the building next door to us. The men were getting a late start today. Normally, they begin at 7, but today they were just bringing the equipment in at 8. I don’t know if there’s electricity next door yet, but it was much too dark to work without it. The foreman was on the sidewalk, taking a video of the sky.

By 8:30, rush hour traffic was picking up. The cars all had their headlights on. The streetlights, which have an electric eye, hadn’t gone off.

The closest fire to San Francisco is about 60 miles away, in the Santa Cruz Mountains. There are fires to the north in Mendocino and near Point Reyes. There’s fire near Sacramento, the state capitol. There’s a fire that’s burning in Sonoma and Napa counties. The worst fire now is in the Sierra National Forest. Yosemite is threatened. The Mariposa Redwood Grove is threatened.

At 9:30, it was so dark in the house that I had to force myself to eat breakfast. It just didn’t seem time yet.

My kid closed her curtains because she didn’t want to see the weird color of the sky.

Earlier in the week, when I was out in our atrium to water the plants, flakes of ash were captured in the spider webs. The ash was kind of pretty, if you didn’t think of it as centuries-old trees or people’s homes.

I read on Facebook that a friend’s 7-year-old asked if the sky was ever going to be normal again.

At 10, it seemed to be getting darker outside. Friends from Pacifica to the south to Eureka way in the north shared their photos of the strangely Martian sky.

Despite the eerie color, the air quality has been better today than it had been for weeks. The cold marine layer of fog that crawled in over us in the night was holding the warmer wildfire smoke at bay.

I’m not sure what happened at 11 o’clock, but it kept growing darker and darker. It felt as if the sun had simply forgotten to rise today.

The fog had lifted a little, so that I could see surrounding hills. After the heatwave last weekend, it’s apparently not going to warm up to 60 degrees today.

Friends joked about the skies that the dinosaurs saw. Several discussed nuclear winter.

I figured out how to turn on the air filter I bought last week. I googled how to seal up the windows and doors.

And apparently, since I am unable to stop obsessing about this today, I signed up to join a Shut Up and Write group online. I managed to focus for about an hour before I had to give up writing anything other than this blog post.

At 1:30, the weather was changing. Things had lightened somewhat and the sky had paled to orange sherbet. I could see the fog swirling overhead. I don’t want it to leave us, though. I’m afraid of what will happen, if it does.

I think of the 40,000 people who have been evacuated from the paths of the fires. I think of Lise, who lost her home, and all the people who don’t know if they have a home to return to. I think of Kenny, who just moved into his beautiful home earlier this year, who was on the roof yesterday with a garden hose, who had to sleep in shifts with his husband to watch the fire coming closer. I think of Ken, who was relieved to see that the school where he taught was still standing.

I think of all the firefighters standing between the flames and the rest of us, under skies that never lighten, breathing air that never clears.

I don’t pray. Normally I would light a candle, but today the world doesn’t need any more fire or smoke.  Today, though, my thoughts send up a plea:  Let the smoke change the weather. I pray it rains.

About Loren Rhoads

I'm the author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel, as well as a space opera trilogy. I'm also co-author of a series about a succubus and her angel. In addition to blogging at CemeteryTravel.com, I blog about my morbid life at lorenrhoads.com.
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4 Responses to Hello from the Apocalypse

  1. The smoke-filled skies are frightening. I’m praying, too, that you all get rain.

  2. My heart breaks for you, San Francisco and all who have been touched by this. Lifting a prayer will not hurt. Let’s hope this is not what the dinosaurs saw. A few weeks ago we had red dust from the Sahara Desert but nothing like this. I saw a photo taken over the Golden Gate Bridge and it was like your street. Take care!

    • Loren Rhoads says:

      Thank you. The skies are beige today, rather than orange, but count of particulates in the air has gone up, so we’re not out of this yet. We can use all the kind thoughts and prayers we can get.

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