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Local Warming

It’s 96 degrees in Pacific Grove. Has to be a first in the 33 years I’ve lived here. I wonder at what point wood will spontaneously ignite the forest or my deck?

Pine cone opening weather, I call it. At this temperature the Monterey pines release their seeds and the snap, crackle, pop is symphonic. Blue jays are squabbling nearby and one perches on my fence, its beak agape, panting from the heat.

I have just returned from a bike ride on the 17-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach: The gate keeper and I have been saying hellos for years and this is the first time I’ve ever seen him without his smoky bear hat. He says the head office just called its rangers and told them they could remove them.

It’s Friday and everyone with the time off and half a brain has converged on the beaches, as it’s a good 10-15 degrees cooler here. I decide to peddle to the ghost tree area and there, looking out to Carmel Beach and the hills beyond, I see an A-bomb plume of white smoke congealing. It’s sending up smoke signals from the Indians fire that has been raging for days. Our county is so tinderous (my spellchecker says that’s not a word but I like it) that fire crews have been working throughout the nights to quell other conflagrations that have dumped air pollution seldom seen here.

I swing by a turnout where tourists are agog with their cameras. The sterling beauty of P.B. is doubled by the warm air. I approach a couple who turn out to be visiting from Stockholm, Sweden.

“Hi, bet you didn’t know that cumulous cloud over there is actually smoke, huh?” I say, becoming Chatty Cathy. (Like they want to think of such things on this blissful day.)

As I wheel away a family-loaded van pulls alongside me. The driver wants to know how they can get down to the beach. He’s been driving along it for miles and somehow has failed to notice.

I give him directions and laugh to myself, remembering that I am also a “dumb tourist” when I visit foreign lands.

A couple of kids in another van inveigle a Beechy ground squirrel to come to their hands to pet it.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” says Cathy-turned-cop. “They can bite and might have rabies.”

They heed my warning and I pass by smiling smugly.

On the way home, I pass my favorite beach, which I call Oystercatcher Beach, peel off my biking shoes and helmet and brave the limpid blue waters.

“Gee-eez!” I shout to anyone who’ll listen. “Dang! This is colder than a . . .” I decide not to fill in the blanks. I’ve never felt the water so cold. I’m getting chill blains but my arthritic joints are lovin’ the cold salt water, so I do a wave dance along with a little boy who wears nothing but swim trunks and a scream. Kids. They are oblivious to frigid waters.

A cute couple from Iowa is prancing in the waves and I take their picture. They thank me and want another one. My ankles are so frozen that I do a Lederhosen polka back to the hot sand. At this moment a darling teen grabs the camera and rescues me. “I’ll take it,” he says, earning brownie points for helping a little old lady cross the street.

I want to take out a loud speaker and blare, “This is NOT your typical June weather, folks. Be prepared for fog, fog and more fog.”

However, what with local warming, you Never Cantrell. We may enjoy a lot more environmentally incorrect heat for years to come . . .



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