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A variety of weather here in Southern Cal Richard Pena | Sat, Jun 18 2011 12:00 PM

Anyone coming into our area for the first time, from some settled place east of here, would probably look at the skies and remark to anyone who would listen, "Bring out the umbrellas. We are going to have a good one today."

Such a scenario reminds me of the first - and only - time my father-in-law, Arthur Breland, visited us.

It was in the month of June and as was his life-long custom he would arise early, come outside and look at the heavens. To be the near perfect host and to make son-in-law points I would join him. He would, of course, tell me of the floods that we were going to experience and I politely disagreed with a smile, telling him that before noon we would have clear skies and sunshine.

I was, of course, right but I still made my Brownie points. He thought I was the greatest weather prognosticator in Southern California.

We bring this up because we currently seem to be in the throes of what we call "June Gloom," a weather condition of which we cannot escape.

June Gloom, we might add, is a phenomenon that doesn't look too closely at the calendar. It may come around a month earlier at which time it may be dubbed "May Gray" or it might come in July and, for want of a better title, still be known as June Gloom.

We have experienced many of these in the past. Most of the time we have just weathered them out, no pun intended. There was one year that we did not. It was a time shortly after our retirement. We had had day after day of solid gloom, or, as Hoagy Carmichael would have described them, "Buttermilk Skies."

Finally one morning my wife and I looked at each other and both agreed: "Let's go find the sun." So we threw a few items into the car, gassed it up and away we went, no particular place in mind, just some sunshine.

It was really a foolish decision. We found the sun all right, somewhere near El Centro, but we also found a wind storm, that was blowing sand all over the landscape. I thought that any time we would see Humphrey Bogart emerge from the blowing sand, AK47 and cigarette in hand. This was the last time we tried to escape June Gloom.

Charlie Marshall, an old friend and colleague, once gave me a tee shirt with the inscription, "California is not for wimps." It listed all those natural catastrophes, earthquakes, wildfires, tidal waves, Santa Anas, and a few others and implied that we take them as everyday occurrences.

Those of us who are native to the area, or adopted natives to the area have experienced almost all of them. I know this household has. For most of them we merely shake them off as nuisances and go about our everyday tasks.

There is one, however, that turns me into a wimp. That is, of course, the wildfires. I have watched, with interest and some trepidation, the current wildfire in eastern Arizona and can do nothing but feel sorrow for those folks. We see the television accounts and all we can think of is a huge rainstorm that will blot out the flames, settle the ash and restore some sort of semblance to a damaged Earth.

I think that the principal, frightening factor in the Arizona fires is that the fire season is upon us. In the coming months most of us know that one careless act, whether it is committed by nature or man, is enough to bring a large degree of consternation to many. We are all affected, whether the fires are in our own backyard or on the other side of the mountain. We feel badly for those who have lost homes or property or have sustained injuries or worse.

Back in the days that we used to teach science to sixth graders we had a teaching tool that demonstrated the triangle causing a fire. Each side of the triangle was clearly marked, oxygen (air), heat,and fuel. Without any of the three one would not have fire. We wonder if June gloom might be a deterrent to fire by eliminating any one or two of those factors. If so, I would endure the gloom until October if need be. And I would not drive to El Centro.

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