Fires, Bunnies, and Rock Chucks (no animals were hurt during the writing of this blog)

I love living at the foot of the Sierras, particularly during the summer. I swear that summer is not better anywhere else. While it’s hot (and we’re in a heat wave right now), most of the time you can still do plenty of activities outside. The sun shines most of the time, and you get that beautiful, blue sky that is only sometimes dotted with puffy, white clouds. The wildlife becomes super active as they enjoy the summer and the season’s fruit. Although, I swear that the rock chuck (sometimes known as a “marmot”) or rabbit that is eating my snow peas will regret it. Don’t worry, I won’t kill them—just squirt them with water. They hate that. I also get some of my best photographs during the summer.

A little bunny that I named "Bluebell" eating our grass.  Isn't she adorable?

A little bunny that I named “Bluebell” eating our grass. Isn’t she adorable? Photo by: Elizabeth Preston

This is what I call a "rock chuck."  Although, most of the people I know call them "marmots."  They make this high-pitched cheeping sound, and the little ones are adorable.  Unfortunately, they breed like crazy, eat like crazy, and poo like crazy.  They're just crazy, cute critters.

This is what I call a “rock chuck.” Although, most of the people I know call them “marmots.” They make this high-pitched cheeping sound, and the little ones are adorable. Unfortunately, they breed like crazy, eat like crazy, and poo like crazy. They’re just crazy, cute critters. Photo by: Elizabeth Preston

 

The only thing I dislike about the summer here is that whenever thunderclouds come rolling out from behind the mountains, you can pretty much bet that you’re going to get forest fires. The fires are absolutely terrible.  It’s really, really dry here. So, when you get fires, those suckers spread like . . . well, wildfire. Then, you’re stuck (or at least I’m stuck) inside because the air quality gets so bad. Also, the devastation those fires cause to the wildlife, the scenery, and people’s property can be astounding. You would think that those thunderclouds would drop a little rain to help put the fires out, but noooo. That’s not how they roll. Get it? Thunderclouds. Roll. Hehe. *cough* *cough* Anyhoo, those clouds rarely drop enough rain to make a difference in putting out the fires. My geography professor stated that it was because of the rain shadow effect that the Sierras have on the clouds. Here’s a good explanation of the phenomenon. http://geography.about.com/od/physicalgeography/a/rainshadow.htm
Not only does a fire spread quickly in a dry climate, but fires actually create their own weather. I know, kind of mind-blowing isn’t it? I remember when I was in elementary school, and there was a huge fire by my house. We had to evacuate, and we watched the fire coverage on the news. The news channel showed a mini tornado that the fire had created. It was probably no bigger than a foot high, but it was one of the strangest things that I’ve seen. It looked like golden heat swirling with angry red. Our firefighters are quite good, and they do the best job that they can. However, it seems like man has truly yet to conquer fire.

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