8-7-21: I often write notes to myself when I’m reading, and more often when I’m camping. These used to be called “commonplace books” and have been maintained since antiquity; I’m sorry I’ve not spent more time on mine, both writing in them and rereading, which I rarely do. I don’t understand why I don’t since I often find notes from years ago that may mean more to me now than they did then and in any event, I usually find something of interest. I also frustrate myself since I often make a very brief notation about something I’m reading and when I return to it after a year or two or more can’t remember what the book was or who the author. Today I looked back in one of the notebooks and found something from a couple of years ago when I was camped in Warner Valley in Lassen Volcanic N.P.: “Crossing a stream I saw a large rock with smaller ones embedded within it as if having arrived when it was molten. I had a striking awareness that that rock had a story that told of its origins and movements and arrival in this spot. And so did the tree it leaned against and the shrub across the stream and every blade of grass and busy insect. A world full of stories intersecting here but not ending here. There will, as always, be more change.” I could have added the flowing water and myself observing. There’s nothing terribly profound in this, especially considering this is volcano country with a long history of eruptions and landscape alterations: When was it ever the same for very long? But I remember my imagination erupting in its own way and picturing all the movements, destruction and creation, comings, and goings, that preceded the peaceful scene in which I stood. Momentarily, I had a longitudinal awareness that I don’t commonly access. I was moved by it. Today I’m moved in a different way by more fiery change, this time a massive wildfire that started many miles to the south of the park and has worked its way north. As best I can tell on the fire maps, it may well engulf that Valley, a place I’ve camped many times and hiked many miles, one of my favorite places. If the fire continues north—and what’s to stop it?—it will almost certainly burn through another of my favorites, Butte Lake, where I camped only a few months ago. As I’ve said before, if these fires were just Nature doing what it does according to natural contingencies, I’d be saddened but accept it as the way of the Earth in forest lands. But there’s no avoiding the knowledge that humans set the table for these fires and before many decades pass a large part of California will burn. Natural incendiary conditions have resulted from unnatural human nature as it now presents itself, a nature that lays waste and kills so much for so little.

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