Jun 24, 2020
by Tom Austin
Here it is July and we’re still talking about that damn virus. Look, don’t take your eye off the ball. Those with short attention spans are already losing interest and with the county “opening up”, they have taken that as a message that if they just ignore it, it will go away. Don’t be that guy. COVID 19 is still here and still eating our lunch. This is a time to practice critical thinking and independent thought. You are being barraged with information and opinions, a good half of it complete nonsense. Don’t be ruled by your boredom, your cabin fever, or your fidgety and restless nature. Wash your hands. Wear your mask. Be smart. I want you around next year to disagree with my columns some more.
Okay, okay, let’s talk about something else for a change. I get it. I’ll stop nagging you. It’s now high summer, and people are finding safe ways to get out and about and get their vitamin D. Camp Meeker is once again a shady retreat, a sylvan glade where one can escape the broiling summer sun and the people and the asphalt and the cars. I’m currently enjoying an app on my phone that helps me identify songbirds by their songs. Those of you paying attention already know that Robins and Spotted Towhees and Chestnut-backed Chickadees are plentiful in the forest boughs. You already know that the Stellar’s Jay is the neighborhood bully, working in gangs to protect their turf, chasing away even the screech owls – in the daytime at least. Now I know all this too, thanks to having a few extra hours in the forest and my Chirpomatic app to help me put names to things. There’s one particular bird call I’ve been curious about for years: a call that spirals upward in ascending triplets, usually around dusk and dawn. I can now tell you that this particular feathered diva is the Swainson’s Thrush, and this worthy soloist I now nominate for the state bird of Camp Meeker.
Interlude over – back to business. It’s fire season once again. Thankfully, nothing but a few vegetation fires, quickly corralled by our tireless first responders. They are our last line of defense. Who is the first line of defense? That’s right: you. Because you are proud Camp Meekerites, most of you did some heavy work last year toward your defensible space. Good for you! That means this year you just need to maintain that good work. Get the winter’s deadfall off your roof and sweep it away from your dwelling. Look at what you didn’t get done last year and put it on your list. Once you get the ball rolling, the time investment becomes manageable. Want more resources? Here’s a couple for you: Fire Safe Camp Meeker (FSCM) continues to evolve and grow. Last year, they started working with Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District (GRRCD) to implement a grant from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF-FP) to create a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). That work is ongoing, and FSCM is as I write this in late June conducting a series of online community meetings. I tried to get into the first one on June 11 and it was sold out. This was disappointing, but I take it as a good sign that Camp Meeker’s folken are keeping their eye on the proverbial fireball. You can keep up with the happenings on the Fire Safe Camp Meeker Facebook page.
Speaking of Facebook pages, here’s another good fire-related one: the LNU Fire Scanner Facebook page is kind of a regional clearinghouse of useful fire-related info. Right now, there are updates on a number of small and already contained vegetation fires. Each update gives important information such as maps, aerial photos, status reports from the fire crews. Although we hope for and work for a respite from yearly firestorms, the “expect the worst, hope for the best” credo reminds us that fire defense is now a yearly duty. The daily news provides an object lesson that there are dangers large enough to affect all of us, and in such situations an intelligent, informed response (or lack of same) makes a life or death difference for people, families, communities, villages, towns, and not infrequently enough entire cities.
Thank you for staying with me through another dry safety lecture of a column. This is our life for a while, so keep your head down and keep doing your work. Remember to stop once in a while and listen to the songbirds. This too shall pass.
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