We pulled off at that exit because we saw a grocery store sign from the freeway. Our destination was still hours away and we wanted to have a beer when we arrived, but by that time the stores would be closed. So it was a practical thing.
I’ve been to quite a few, but not nearly all, of the exits on the 5 in the Central Valley but never this one. I had no memory of visiting this particular grocery store chain anywhere between Sacto and the Oregon border.
I’d been driving since leaving Ashland in mid-afternoon and the sun had just sunk behind the coast range here. The sky was lit up with a dusty orange glow. The summer was slowly waning from its peak as September approached and we were thankful there’d been no big fires yet. It felt like it was only a matter of time before everything burned—every last tree from Del Norte to Tahoe and from Klamath to Marin—but perhaps we’d be spared any record breakers this year.
That seems the most to hope for in these days of new highs, lows and days-in-a-row: that this month won’t be the hottest, wettest or deadliest every recorded; that some respite, however temporary, might be felt, if only for one’s nerves.
For, what is it to live in such times? When talk of “the end of the world”—in some sense or other—is no longer just crazy, like it was not so long ago?