California, Part One

palm

One week ago I loaded my truck and pointed it south. I crossed the Columbia River at deep dusk and rolled through central Oregon under a black velvet bowl of bright stars. Spent the night in Klamath Falls and woke up to continue the journey. Entered California and gazed upon the icy volcanic cone of Mt. Shasta until I passed it. Descended out of the forested mountains into broad valleys filled with rows and rows of almond and olive trees…I was in country new to me. I came to rest in Sacramento and this is where I’ll be for three more weeks.

I’m working at the Wildland Fire Training Center, as a logistics staff member for the Wildland Fire Apprentice Academy. Today we welcomed 64 apprentices, who are entry-level firefighters. The next few weeks will be a combination of classroom and field training in fire suppression, leadership, physical fitness, and other skills which will contribute to their success in the federal firefighting agencies. The logistics staff is sort of like the little elves who scurry behind the scenes to make everything flow smoothly and fix things when they fall apart. Organization, attention to detail, flexibility, teamwork…I came here to do what I’m good at but also for new experiences and challenges. And there have been a few of those.

Cities are very strange habitats for me. I’m a mountain person, preferring the shaggy untamed spaces of the North American west. But here I am, surrounded by pavement and sound and light. The weather is mild–foggy mornings melt away to sunny afternoons. There are several kinds of palm trees here, and I’ve seen oranges, lemons and grapefruits hanging over backyard fences. This is not a pedestrian-friendly place, but perhaps I haven’t yet discovered the walkable areas. That’s a priority for my next days off.

In the meantime there is much to do. Every day is different. My coworkers are fun and I look forward to interacting with the apprentices.

More impressions are forthcoming…

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