December 22, 2013

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Sunsets On Fire

Good morning and greetings, winter solstice fans. On Saturday, in the spirit of French painter Toulouse-Lautrec, we enjoyed the shortest day of the year, as fall turned into winter. December had already provided us with some wacky moments in the weather department, as we experienced both extreme high and low temperatures within a one week period. At one point I was wearing my bathing suit under my snow pants.

Back on December 10th, the air was a tad chilly. Okay, it was fall frigid. How cold was it? I didn’t make my bed that day, I just defrosted it. It seemed that a pre Christmas mass of cold air from the Arctic sent temperatures plunging, as we tied an all-time record low for the day at 27 degrees. How cold was it? I actually considered listening to Rush Limbaugh. That’s how desperate I was for some hot air.

But then last Monday, the thermometer hit 74 degrees, which matched the record high for the day. How hot was it? Hillary Clinton was spotted downtown wearing a pants suit without the pants. I had take off my shorts off with a spatula.

Yes, the weather has been wild and crazy, in a very meteor illogical way. And then last Sunday brought smoke from a fire in Big Sur, which put a whole new face on the skies above us.

Now we’re not supposed to be in wildfire season, which nature usually reserves for July or August. Be that as it may or June, last week’s fire burned in the dense forest and steep terrain of Big Sur. The blaze had some help from some offshore winds, which was burning the dry brush in the Los Padres National Forest, which lies 30 miles south of Monterey by the way Sheryl Crow flies.

This rare December fire, in one of the world’s loveliest places, came at a time when the earth was at its thirstiest, as this is the driest calendar year on record around these parts. During non-drought years, Big Sur averages 45 inches of rain, but has gotten only 7 inches so far this year, and just a half inch since July. Throw in some dry vegetation, warm winds and temperatures and boom, you’ve got yourself a burn baby burn, disco inferno.

So with this as the backdrop, I awoke to a dry mouth and a beautiful sunrise last Monday morning. The horizon was sailor red, with swirling clouds exotically placed in an colorful backdrop. But the highlight of the morning session were the huge waves blasting the coast. Seems a west by northwest swell dropped in on the bay, bringing the surf community out in full force. Or as my rabbi likes to say, “Live slow, surf fast.”

But the best was yet to come, as big waves continued to pound the cliffs throughout the day. As the sun started to dip in the sky, West Cliff Drive was filled with an early arriving crowd, as there was going to be a party at dusk and all were invited.

The smoke added an ominous presence, as there was an unusual ribbon of clouds reaching across the sky. This provided a nice cover for the sun as it made its descent to the horizon. Throw in the usual haze, humidity and pounding surf and this was the kind of show that brings the fans out of their seats. The sky was going through different phases of color. My personal favorite was the final act, which I can only describe as fifty shades of orange.

In the end, I was left with the memory and images of a classic late fall sunset. But here’s the best part. The following night the sky put on an even better performance that left this longtime observer filled with digital glee. Stay tuned.

On to a little late night humor. “Fox News host Megyn Kelly now says she was just kidding when she said Santa Claus is white. However, she’s standing by her statement that the Grinch who stole Christmas, definitely Jewish. Yesterday Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly told viewers that Santa Claus is white. Then she said Santa’s elves are Mexican and they are stealing jobs from American elves.” –Conan O’Brien

“In an interview Oprah Winfrey said she has no regrets about not having children. Oprah said, “I feel bad enough about bringing Dr. Phil into the world.” – Conan O’Brien “Here’s what I know about the moon. It’s pale and white and on some nights I stare at it for hours and hours at a time. Oh, no, wait, I’m thinking of Anderson Cooper.” – Craig Ferguson

“In a speech, Russian president Vladimir Putin slammed the U.S. for being ‘genderless and infertile.’ My question is: How did Vladimir Putin get his hands on my profile?” .” –Conan O’Brien “Somebody actually did a study that found that because of his hard-drinking lifestyle, the character James Bond would live to be only 56 years old. When men heard that they were like, “Yeah, I’d take that deal.” – Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our first winter report. We’ll catch you showing NBA fans why you’re the top scorer in the last five minutes of tightly contested games this year. Aloha, mahalo and later, Damian Lillard fans.


  1. Sure that smoke from Big Sur wasn’t a winter solstice 420 party?

    Comment by Jacoby Ellsbury — December 23, 2013 @ 9:56 am

  2. Happy Holidays to you and your family. That was the best sunset I can recall living here on the coast. May 2014 be peaceful and rewarding to you.

    Comment by babs — December 23, 2013 @ 12:39 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Follow Sunrise Santa Cruz on Twitter
Sunrise Santa Cruz in the news!