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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Casteel

Watering's a Chore

My son planted these sunflower seeds at the beginning of shelter in place, when we were still thinking of this as something we'd be dealing with for a week (Ha!). Now they're all grown up in the garden outside and taller than me.

Like everything outside, they've got a layer of ash on them, another development that nobody wanted or expected. But still things are growing as they'll grow out of the ashes of this fire season as well.

We've had friends and family ask if we wanted to leave California, given that it's currently on fire. We won't. Honestly, I don't know if I ever could leave. As the old adage goes, "Stay in California but leave before you get soft." Well I was born and raised in California so that ship sailed for me long ago.

It hurts to see the state I love in such pain, held captive in our house by the constant funeral pyre of acres of forest and scores of people. To add insult to injury, the president, whose mismanagement of the federal forests in California helped cause this terrible fire season, offers little help and revels in our tragedy.

Others write about the mass exodus that will empty California. The tech companies will all embrace work from home. Those workers will all leave for cheaper, less flammable states. Our businesses will all be shuttered from Covid. We'll turn into one of those empty boom time ghost towns you find between here and Tahoe.

It's a doom and gloom scenario I've heard before. It won't come to pass. There's too many reasons people love California. That's why I'm never leaving.

There's a reason why Hollywood happened here. Look back at the old Star Trek for instance. All those Class M planets, be they tropical, desert, forests, wintry peaks or whatever diverse terrain was needed, were all just California. A whole galaxy worth of places in one state.

There's a buzz here that I haven't felt anywhere else. It's still a frontier, drawing in those who seek the undiscovered. That westward drive never ended when it hit the Pacific. It continues to crash into the coast with waves of new questions, new ideas.

Where else could I be sainted by a group of queer and trans nuns? Where else could I find a group of mad scientists and fly a giant glowing pyramid at burning man? Where else could I dive for abalone and snowboard in the same day?

The loss of nature and the loss of life is terrible and still ongoing. We'll be here to support each other through it, giving shelter to our friends who are evacuated, donating to help those who lost their homes (I donated through California Community Fund today. Donate too at ) and getting rid of the administration who denies the climate change that's causing this (Made another donation to the Biden victory fund today and you can too at ).

California will be here when this has passed and so will we. Not just because there's no where left to hide from climate change, but because there's nowhere else we'd rather be regardless of it. This is home.

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