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Since Tassajara Springs Fire has our attention, let’s talk about Fire Monks, the book written by Colleen Morton Busch, about the Tassajara Five, the five monks who remained onsite at Tassajara, the oldest Zen Buddhist monastery in California, nestled within backcountry south of Carmel Valley, to battle the 2008 Basin Complex fire.Fire Monks by Colleen Morton Busch

“On June 21, 2008, lightning strikes, from one end of drought-dry California to the other, ignited more than two thousand wildfires in what became known as the “lightning siege,”  opens the Prologue, setting the scene through the senses, “If you lived in California, you smelled the smoke.”

Lightning strikes in two places ignited two fires near Tassajara: one at Big Sur (10 miles west), named the “Gallery fire” because lightning struck at Coast Gallery, starting the blaze; and another at Bear Basin (8-10 miles north) the “Basin fire,” and then a third fire began three days later when a single lightning bolt enflamed a tree.  The three fires converged on Tassajara, becoming 2008’s “Basin Complex fire.”

46 guests were unpacked and in session for the summer season, with an additional 70 residents occupying Tassajara.  All of the guests were first evacuated with some students, then the residents  removed themselves to safe locations, so that only 14 remained to prepare the center in defense of the blaze.

As the fire approached nearby, burning up the other side of the ridge, Tassajara was ordered to evacuate all remaining residents.  Five returned to the site, not wanting to complete the evacuation.  These five determined to remain at Tassajara.  The fire’s Branch Director didn’t argue with their decision, but he insisted that his staff obtained each of the five names.

Fire Monks is about awareness, Dharma Rain, and remaining in the moment.  Fire Monks is about taking responsibility when agencies are unable to act.  Fire Monks exhibits Zen practice in a real life situation, as well as sitting zazen upon a cushion.  Most surprisingly, Fire Monks is about attachment, attachment to one’s place and the desire to save it from harm.

Buy the Book.

Information on the current (2013) Tassajara Fire.

This post written by Anneliese Agren

Foggy at the coast. Sunny and warm 2 miles inland.

In celebration of the return of our beloved fog to the California coast after two weeks of weather extremes: 30 mph wind gusts for a week, followed by wiltingly-hot temperatures, let’s resurrect two old books for their descriptions of California’s sea fog, also known as “Advection Fog.” Advection fog forms when warm, moist sea air blows onshore, and is brought up short from its travels where the upwelling colder water runs along the coast. When the interior warms, a wind develops and blows the fog back to sea. This is why fog brings breezes whether it’s coming or going. Some people call advection fog, “Tule Fog,” but that is a particular type of inland valley fog; completely different in both its location and how it arises. (I think people like saying the word “tule” more than they like saying “advection,” so that is why the error persists.)

natureandscience00amerrichThe first golden oldie resource is a little volume of essays published in 1915, Nature & Science on the Pacific Coast : a guide-book for scientific travelers in the West. In the essay, “Weather Conditions on the Pacific Coast” is a single entry describing, “one of the most climatic features of San Francisco is the prevalence of fog.”

The prevailing weather condition of the City could have seven different descriptions by the locals, as it is said the Eskimos have a variety of words for snow, and indeed, sometimes the fog crawls in like cat feet, but there is another fog that pushes first a wind, then blows dramatically into the City, swirling grey gusts around the hilltops and cable cars, making the town come alive.

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Days until manuscript completion

Final DraftNovember 30th, 2013
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