My father called it Nature’s air-conditioning,
drizzly vapor pulled ashore from open ocean,
drawn by hellish central valley heat,
more ethereal than dense tule fog,
winter months without sunlight.
From the deck at bohemian Nepenthe,
I watch mist rise, ghostly apparition
crawling inland, slowly effacing
blue Ventana wilderness mountain tops,
rounded green and gold hillsides.
To the east, at our ranch outside Modesto,
mercury inches upward past 90.
Within cracked-earth orchards, temperatures sizzle.
It’s 75 degrees along the coast in Big Sur.
Here, white-legged tourists sprout goose bumps, shiver.