Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Not so soon
Yesterday, a number of bloggers announced summer over. According to a number of calendars, summer ends at Labor Day. The school year starts in most of the United States within a week of yesterday. Fall of the American election year traditionally runs from Labor Day till Election Day. Most people have taken their summer vacations by now, if they got one, and are packing their recreational gear away for the season. Most homeowners are done trying to make their yards look pretty and will now prepare them for winter. But in a lot of the West, summer is nowhere near over and we're bracing for one if the worst parts of summer. As the south goes into the worst part of the hurricane season about now, we go into the worst part of the fire season.

In the wild and rural parts of the West, people hold their breaths from mid-August till the first serious rains of Fall. Like the South and its hurricanes, we have our legendary fires. In the Big Blow-up of 1910, 1700 fires pushed by record winds burned three million acres of Idaho and Montana and killed 85 people in just two days in late August. Most of the town of Wallace, Idaho was destroyed. In 1988, just over one third of Yellowstone Park burned in the three weeks straddling the end of August and the beginning of September. A 1947 fire in Kenai, Alaska burned 310,000 acres and continued deep into the winter.

Let's not celebrate or mourn the end of summer yet. For better or worse, we still have a few weeks to go.

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