Cottonwood trees in fall with yellow leaves

With the start of September there is an anticipation of a change in seasons. The anticipation is for shorter days, cool, crisp weather while leaves change colors on the trees. Possibly some reminders of summer, with a few hotter days, but overall the days start growing cooler as things turn from summer to fall. We have expectations of how things should go and we are ready to change from shorts and flip flops to long pants, possibly with a jacket or sweater as the season turns.

This year, as a lot of other things this year, reality is not meeting expectation. In Southern California we are getting a blast from excessive summer heat and fires filling the air with smoke. Very different from bonfires on the beach or a change of clothes for cooler weather. It seems hard to have things not fitting in, not marching along to fit with our idea of what is normal and right based on our previous life experience.

Closeup of leaf starting to turn fall colors

There isn’t a lot anyone can do to change things, the best we can do is to stay flexible and flow along with the current events as they rush forward in what feels like a disconnected mess. To flow with the moments of possibly preparing for an evacuation if a fire starts in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Aspens with golden colors on side of mountain with low clouds shadowing over them

I walked around our house, wondering what we might choose to take if for some reason we did have to worry about an evacuation. We have so many things that we’ve gathered over the years, items that seemed so important at other times of our life. Yet if fire threatens, they suddenly become objects that we will have to carry with us. Perhaps even left behind if we choose to start fresh and try different hobbies or ways of keeping our house. Maybe the better observation, to take note of the importance of people in a rapidly changing, chaotic world as we try to grab hold of something, anything to bring order in our lives. We are currently safe, just watching to see what happens. I hope this finds everyone else doing well, no matter their weather or situation. Stay safe!

Pictures by J.T. Harpster. Prints of his pictures can be purchased at

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